Reading to your Child: It’s More than Reading Words on a Page

Reading to your child is more than just reading words on a page. It’s spending quality time, engaging them in a story, sparking imagination, and teaching them new words and concepts. When I read to my children, I use an expressive voice hoping that they will one day want to read on their own for pleasure.

There are some easy steps to make reading more enticing and exciting while building cognitive skills for your child’s mind. If you haven’t started already it’s never too late.

Getting Started

  • Find a comfortable spot for you and your child to read. If neither of you are comfortable reading will begin feeling like a chore.
  • Make sure to show enthusiasm in your voice while reading. You certainly don’t want to listen to CSPAN all day so don’t make your child listen to a monotone story.
  • If you don’t already have a reading routine, start one. Not only does your child thrive on routine but it will ensure that you are reading to your child regularly. My kids and I read right before bed. They know it happens most every night and look forward to picking out their nightly book.
  • I am warning you…Children love to read the same book over and over again. This may seem monotonous to you but rereading the same book helps children to notice new things and understand new concepts and vocabulary.

While Reading

I know you maybe thinking, “I know how to read.” But there is more to reading that just reading the words on the page.

  • As you read, talk about the photos on the page and how they relate to the story.
  • Insert your child’s name for the character in the book. We happen to have a book titled Chloe by Peter McCarty and since my daughter’s name is Chloe we change Chloe’s sidekick character, little Bridget, to Noah. This way both children are in the story and feel connected to the adventure.
  • Explain unfamiliar words or concepts in the book. This is how your child’s vocabulary and cognitive skills will grow. Remember that just because it makes sense to you, your child may not understand.
  • Have fun with the story. One of our favorite books is I am a Bunny by Ole RisomIn this book we add something to every page whether it is counting the number of birds, making sounds for the animals, or pretending to pick flowers from the book and blow dandelion seeds into the air.
  • Ask questions about why something is happing as you are reading. This allows for your child to understand why things are happening and perhaps why a character is feeling a certain way.
  • The most fun is asking what they think will happen next. You never know where a child’s imagination will lead.

After Reading

  • Be sure to ask your child what happened in the story. Most likely the answer will be I don’t know. At first this takes a lot of work. Children need coaching on how to remember what they just read. This is a learned skill.
  • When the former doesn’t work try prompting your child.
    • Fill in the blank: i.e. After the truck went up the hill, it collected _____?
    • Recall prompt: i.e. Sally went where to get her bike?
    • Using pictures: i.e. What is happening in this picture?

You may be thinking that there are a lot of things to remember but keep in mind the more you practice these techniques the easier they become and you will no longer realize that you are incorporating this into you regular reading.

Written by Jamie Jackson