Sparking the Joy of Reading with Your Tiny Toddler

When the weather is unpredictable, it is always good to snuggle up to a good book. For young children, reading provides a basis for early literacy, phonics and can spark their imagination. If your child is captivated by the photos in the book, it is fine. Their brain is on overdrive trying to understand the world around them.


Whether you are purchasing books or looking for ideas for your storytime, here are some of our favorite places in town.


Comprised entirely of English books, the quiet surrounding of JOYO kids will allow you and your child to focus on reading together. Here you can purchase a card where instead of buying books to take home, you can check them out like a library card. The prices are RMB900 for checking out 5 books at a time for one year.

Address: 468 Changshou Lu, Zhonghuan Shangwu Daxia, Rm 2201 (near Wuning Nan Lu)

Hours: Tuesday to Friday, from 1 pm to 6 pm; Saturday & Sunday 10 am to 6 pm

Tel: 021 6214 7117

Garden Books

This bookstore has been a long time staple on Changle Lu. They provide a warm and cozy environment with a coffee shop. Their children’s section is welcoming with good reading material for young toddlers as well as tweens.

Address: 325 Changle Lu

Tel: 021 5404 8728

Foreign Language Bookstore


At the Foreign Language Bookstore on Fuzhou Lu, you can find a large variety of English language books. Although most of the books are suitable for adults, there is a small selection for children’s books and the tweens. If you go upstairs, you can find a great variety of Chinese books to include pinyin, which is great if you want to create a bilingual Chinese environment at home for your child. Further down the street on Fuzhou Lu, you can also find Shanghai Book City (465 Fuzhou Lu, Tel:6391 4848) which has a colorful and fun children’s book section.

Address: 390 Fuzhou Lu (near Shan Xi Lu)

Tel: 021 2320 4994


Inside the Superbrand Mall in Pudong, Boocup offers a variety of children’s books. For young readers to tweens, you can find a sizeable collection (of course, nothing in comparison to bookshops overseas). There are also activity sets sprinkled around, which will give you good ideas for at-home playtime.

Address: Superbrand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xi Lu, 7Fl, #15

Hours: 10 am to 10 pm

Tel: 021 6877 3619

SISYPHY Bookstore

Mainly Chinese books, but they are carefully classified according to age group. This is great if you hope to maintain your child’s mandarin level. Especially if you have not yet decided on the types of mandarin books to buy. However, inside they also have great DIY crafts and activity kits to keep your little one or tiny toddler busy.

Address: Xujiahui Lu, Lu One Plaza, 02-31A/31B

Tel: 021 61276832

Tips for More Joyful Reading

1. You don’t always have to follow the words, you can read according to the action of the pictures.

2. If necessary, go for wordless books—let your child engage in the character’s actions and build their own story in their mind! Or, look for pop up books.

3. Change where you read. Dress and act in theme with the book. Or, plan the books according to seasonality, holidays.

4. For regular reads, try to keep the book’s character alive throughout the day. For example, how would Peppa, or Spot enjoy certain activities or foods?

5. Mix activities and treats with the books you are reading. For example, after reading an Eric Carle Book, you can consider a trip to the zoo or,  make healthy animal crackers at home.

6. Don’t restrict their curiosity. If they take enjoyment from reading adult reading material such as a newspaper or a magazine, let them.

7. And if they enjoy reading the same books over and over again, let them be. They are probably trying to connect the story in their brain and trying to recognize words.

8. There will be days they won’t want to touch a book, it is fine. Reintroduce a book to them at a different time and they might be more receptive.

9. You can also choose to tell oral stories, during bath time, or on rides. This will spark their creativity and their skills in storytelling.

10. Have fun and be spontaneous. You can also join StoryTime classes and read along

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