Reading with your child is a great way to spend quality time while also improving his or her speech, language, and literacy skills! When you read to your child, you help him or her learn new vocabulary words, sentence structure, basic concepts, sound and letter relationships, rhyming, sequencing, humor, cause and effect relationships, how to make predictions, and many other skills! Every time you read a book (even one you’ve read dozens of times) brings about new concepts and experiences. This is why many toddlers and preschoolers love hearing the same story repeatedly.
The main goal to keep in mind when reading with your child is to keep it a positive emotional experience. If you succeed, your child will return to books with you again and again with pleasure!
Here are some ways to keep book reading a positive experience, which are also rich in speech and language opportunities:
- Focus on narrating the pictures in the book using short, simple sentence structures rather than reading the words on the page.
- Let the child guide the reading event. Comment on the pictures that the child points to rather than asking him or her questions that burden him or her to answer. Let the child control the page turning, even if he or she is not following the order of the book at first.
- Include in your child’s library books in a variety of textures, colors, interactivity (flaps, pop-ups, etc.) and sizes. You can place the books that may be easily damaged by a child in a separate box to be read with you, so you do not have to worry when you are not supervising.
- Include books that are about routines that your child experiences daily (e.g. bath time, bedtime, getting dressed, toilet-training), and read them around those times of the day. This way your child would be familiar with the routine and with the book’s message as they reinforce each other.
- Make book-reading a daily routine, as well as going to the library or bookstore together a weekly or monthly one. You can build a love of books in your child from a very young age, and make the whole process, i.e. driving to the library, choosing books, reading books there, checking out the books, driving home, a special tradition of your family!
- Read books in several languages if you speak more than one, and teach your child nursery rhymes, songs, cultural stories, and poems about your culture and his or hers as part of your efforts to raise your child bilingually. There are many benefits to raising your child bilingually. Please check back for a future blog about this topic.
Shirit Megiddo, M.S., CCC-SLP