By Sara Reichstadt, Education Coordinator, Kinderberry Hill Child Development Centers
February is “I Love to Read Month,” a time to spread the joy of sharing good books. Research tells us it is never too early to start reading to children. From the day they are born, even our youngest of listeners will enjoy hearing the sound of our voice, the rhythm of our speech and the inflections we use while reading a story. Here are a few tips to help build a love of reading in your little one.
Reading with children should involve many questions and much conversation. Interactions are the key to building enjoyment in reading. Take time to ask questions like: “What will happen next?”, “What would happen if . . .?”, “What would you do?”, or “How do you think they feel?”. These questions let children practice recalling events in a story, inferring meaning from illustrations, problem-solving, and using their imaginations, (all great practice for your future reader)! Asking follow-up questions such as, “Why do you think so?” or “How do you know?” is a nice way for you to fully understand your child’s reasoning.
Keep Reading those “Oh So Familiar” books!
Though you may have read the same book ten times yesterday, and are already on the fifth read for today, keep reading that favorite book! If we want to build a love of reading, we want children’s reading initiative and interests fostered. Of course, it is always a good idea to try to expose them to a large variety of books, but if they have a favorite, make sure it is always part of your reading routine. That very book is the one that is currently building an appreciation for reading in your child.
Let them read to you. As you share familiar books, stop reading frequently and give your child a chance to fill in the next word or phrase. This allows them to participate in telling the story. Take a moment to point to the word you would like them to ‘fill-in’. As they say that word or phrase, compliment them on their reading! Though they may not officially be reading, they are learning that print has meaning and this is one of the first steps in learning to read.
Seize the moment!
In many of our homes, we have shelves and baskets of books in living rooms, bedrooms, and even kitchens. We want to have books readily available to children. Think about also keeping a stash of books in your car, your purse, or even few waterproof books in the bath. Any opportunity to read to your child is time well spent. Sometimes just waiting in line at the grocery store can be a nice opportunity to enjoy a quick read.
Whenever your child shows interest in books or asks for you to read to them, take a moment to stop and do just that. Children’s attention spans are vast and varying. This may take only a minute of your time, or it may take the two of you on a fun and meaningful journey through a book! In either scenario, you are sure to be fostering a love of reading in your little one.
Some of my family’s favorite books:
Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
This sweet board book offers many opportunities for your child to chime in and practice hearing and saying silly rhymes. Many children love to chime in on the “No, No, that isn’t right. . .” phrase with gusto! Make sure to add a nice long pause at the end of the book as you read. . .”It’s quiet now, what do you say?”
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This book offers wonderful opportunities for your child to participate in ‘reading’ this book. Ask him to keep an eye out for the little mouse. Let him fill in the predictable words such as “hush” as they are repeated in the story, as well all of the wonderful rhyming words. Keep an eye on the moon and let your child tell you what they notice about it outside bunny’s window.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld
This book is about dump trucks, cement mixers, and bulldozers getting ready for bed after a long day of work. It offers charming and rich vocabulary, while telling a very familiar bedtime routine to your child. Ask them where they would like to sleep, if they were on the construction site. Pause from time to time and ask them what is happening in the illustrations before you read the pages. Let them chime-in and fill-in the predictable phrase of. . .”Shh. . .goodnight, Crane Truck, goodnight.”
Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
This book is sure to offer your preschooler many giggles as they enjoy watching Duck try out his wild idea and ride a bike! This story offers great opportunities to discuss with your child the thoughts of the animals and let your child share opinions of their own! With such a fun and silly ending, your child will love talking about this story. Ask your child to share some of their wild ideas with you. Be sure to draw your child’s attention to the final illustration of Duck now looking at a tractor. . .What might he be thinking?