How to teach your toddler to point to pictures in a book




I do not have this exact book that I have shown above….but I have a few of the Priddy books…..I wanted to write a post about how you can teach your toddler to point to pictures in a book. 

Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet two absolutely adorable little twin boys….I have never seen 16 month old little boys with eye-lashes so long and beautiful…they were both so sweet…anyway…..sitting with their mom and dad…I told them to look on my site for information regarding language development and how to enhance both expressive and receptive language.  We also talked about how to teach children to point to pictures in a book…which is a different skill than pointing to an object that you desire and want….read more below for information about pointing as a non-verbal means of communication.

When I was blogging last night….I realized that I had not yet posted about how you can teach your little one to point to pictures.  As I said just above…asking your child to find/point/locate a picture in a book is a different skill than pointing to obtain a need.  When you ask your child to point to a picture in a book…that is a receptive language skill…this refers to your child’s understanding of language.  When you say to her…show me the apple in the book…she may…if she can…point to the picture…as I said…this is a receptive language skill.


Pointing as an expressive means of communication (the child’s ability to let her parent know what she wants by pointing to the object):

Pointing may seem like it is a skill that has little importance…however…in the very little ones….children that do not yet have verbal language…I am hoping that they have some means of communication….even if it is non verbal. 

So I often ask parents:  is your child able to point to a desired item that is out of her reach…to non-verbally ask you that she wants the item…….is your child able to bring you an item…such as a book or a ball….to non-verbally say…hey mom….read this to me….or hey mom let’s play with the ball.   And finally, does your little one…pull on your leg…and they try and pull you to a desired object…to let you know that she needs your help and that she wants something.

The little ones that I see that DO NOT have the ability to communicate non-verbally…often are struggling in other areas too….because they have not yet made the connection that pointing, showing or pulling…they can get what they want.

However, the goal of this post….is to help you help your little one…understand how to point to a picture in a keep in mind…this is a receptive task…meaning you will be asking her to find a certain picture and point to it….this is not an expressive task.  She is not pointing to make a request (above I described pointing to make a request…which is considered to be an expressive task…because she is letting you know what she wants)…..the goal of this post is to address your little one’s ability to locate a picture that you have named.

So….I like to start off with the Priddy books….one because they are real pictures..not cartoon drawings….so most likely your child will be more familiar with these pictures.  They are less abstract and more concrete…because they are actual pictures.  Second…this is not a story that you are reading to your child…so it is a good starting point for working on pointing skills….because you will be looking at the book with your little one…and just labeling the pictures…you will not be reading words-as in a typical children’s book. 

So when you open the book and see pictures of such things as: baby, apple, car, boat, shoe, sock, dog, cat…(etc…you get the idea)….you are going to say the word: APPLE….as you use YOUR finger and point to the apple.  And then continue throught the book labeling the pictures..and pointing to them as you say the name of the picture.

Go through the book frequently… not place any language demands on your child…you do the talking and the pointing.  After you feel she has become familiar with the book….take the book out and now ask her where the pictures are…keeping your language simple…changing your inflection in your speech to keep your child interested and motivated…use facial expression to show excitment…and say: Where’s apple?….you may have to say: Show me the apple?….or Point to the apple.  If your little one does not understand the language…remember to use the strategy RSA(ready, set, action)…this just means that you will help her by…taking her finger…and as you say: Point to the apple….help her to point to the apple.  Eventually….through practice…she will understand the direction and she will point to the named picture.

I hope this was helpful…and I know for sure that you can find the Priddy Books at: 

Have fun with your little one or big one!


About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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