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Tips for Reading with Young Children

Reading with children promotes connection, increases concentration, improves creativity and imagination, AND builds a lifelong love of reading? So, there’s no time like the present! Here are some tips for reading with young children.

  • Ask questions while reading. Point to pictures and say, “What is this?” Confirm what your child says by repeating it back to them. “Yes, that is a duck!”
    *Make sure to ask questions to the youngest listeners too! Even those not yet verbal are often happy to point when given the opportunity.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Encourage them to use their imagination. Open-ended questions do not have right or wrong answers, but will let your child know you are interested in what they think and allow them to use new vocabulary! “If you were a duck, would you rather swim in the pond or sit in your nest?”
  • Try extending conversations to 5 or more exchanges. Rather than just answering a child’s question or settling for one answer from them, follow up. Ask them to elaborate. Maybe ask them how they felt or try a few “what if” questions.
    *Don’t forget infants can have conversations too! Look at their eyes when you speak, but pause when they kick, coo, or look away. When their movements still and they regain eye contact, this is your cue to continue. This supports an understanding of conversation and trust with your little talker.
  • Make reading an adventure! Use silly voices. Let your child “chime-in” on repeated phrases. Ask them, “Do you remember what happens next?” If it is a very familiar story, give the book to your child and let them read to YOU.

How we read to children is as important as how often we read to them! Talking about books is just as valuable as reading them. Make sure you include your child in the story. Let them share their thoughts and questions. More than anything, simply enjoy this time together. This is what truly builds a love of reading in children.

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