You know that reading to your child is good. It demonstrates to them the importance of reading, it’s a good activity to share, and it teaches pre-reading skills. If you’re not exactly sure how to do it, here are five tips to make reading to your child enjoyable for both of you.
1. Pick a book that is appropriate to your child’s developmental level. Babies up to two-year-olds like clear, uncluttered pictures, with only a sentence or two per page. Preschoolers begin to have longer attention spans and can handle longer stories in their picture books. As your child gets older and even able to read by themselves, you can pick books that are to their taste, yet might be slightly too difficult for them to read themselves. If you need suggestions, don’t hesitate to ask a librarian at the Information Desk!
2. Make reading part of your daily routine. Bedtimes make great times for sharing books, as it helps them wind down after a busy day. Cuddling while reading is encouraged! In fact, any cuddle time during the day can be book time. Are you in line somewhere waiting? Reading aloud works to keep your child deal with the boredom. Be prepared to read the same book over and over again, as young children love the predictability of routine.
3. Talk to your child about what you’re reading. If your very young child points to a part of the picture, you can name it and say something about it. You can ask them what color it is, or what the creature is doing. You can ask what sound it makes. For older children, you can ask things like how the character felt when something happened to them in the story, or what would have happened if they had chosen to do something different. Talking together with your child is more important than reading the book straight through.
4. Have fun. Make exaggerated faces and don’t be afraid to make silly sounds, all to go along with the story. Come to one of our storytimes at the library, and see how much fun we have reading books to your child. You don’t have to do different voices like some of us do, but check out how much fun we have. Your child will know, and learn to have fun while reading, too.
5. Don’t stop! Just because your child has learned to read by themselves, doesn’t mean that you should stop reading to them. You can pick out chapter books that you both like, read a chapter (or two!) a night, then talk about it. It is a good way of not only demonstrating the continuing importance of reading, but also it is a good opportunity to talk about issues and values important to you as a parent and as a family. Continuing to read to your child even as they get older is especially important for reluctant readers.
Reading to your child helps them in many ways. Start reading to them when they are young, and keep reading to them as they get older; show them your love through reading. If you want to know more, or need help picking out a good book to share, come talk to your local librarian. We would love to help!