Reading to your child is a wonderful thing. Not only does it help with listening and comprehension skills, along with so many other academic benefits—it can be just plain fun!
But as many benefits come with reading to your child, there are many more benefits to reading with your child.
Remember, many young children don’t have the patience for reading a book word by word, page by page.
Here are some things I do to engage with a child while reading a book:
I let the child hold the book. We look together at the unopened book, and I ask, “What do you think this book is about?” This helps him to develop reasoning skills.
I encourage the child to look at the pictures. I ask questions about the pictures as we go through the book, and I let him ask me questions. (Such as, “What is this guy doing?” or “What do you think he’s going to do next?”) This helps develop his awareness of what’s happening in the world around him.
I let the child help turn the pages. This gives him some hands-on experience with handling a book, and gives him some control over the activity. With very young children, if they turn more than one page at a time, I just go with the flow and we look at the page they turned to.
For a twist, I let the child “read” the story to me! This helps him develop the skills to tell about events—and maybe even make up his own stories! With older children, I actually let them read the book to me, then try to retell parts of the story in their own words. This helps with reading comprehension as well.
I look for books with a lot of repetition and/or rhyming. Books that have a line that repeats, or almost repeats, and books with rhyming help young children with language development. Repetition and rhyme help children learn the rhythm of language and the way words go together, both in books and in conversation. Plus, they’re fun! One of my favorites is Pugs in a Bug, by Carolyn Crimi. There is a line that repeats mostly the same way throughout the book, so even little ones learn quickly that they can join in! Another good set of books is the Brown Bear series, by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle.
With older children, I use books to help teach vocabulary. I encourage children to let me know if we get to a word they don’t understand, and when we do, I explain it in language they can understand.
ALSO SEE: The Benefit of Reading to Your Child
Keep reading to your child—it’s an especially wonderful routine to get into at bedtime, if you aren’t already. But try reading with your child, too, when you can!
How to Read With Your Child, Not Just To Your Child
Teresa Davis, M.S. CCC-SLP
What are some creative fun ways you enjoy reading with your children?