Reading books to your child is an excellent way to encourage language development. Exposure to books has countless benefits, such as learning new vocabulary, organizing thoughts and ideas, learning new sentence structures, building narrative language skills, developing inference and problem solving skills, fostering imagination, social emotional development, and strengthening listening comprehension. Furthermore, reading to your child is an excellent way to spend one-on-one time with your child each day. Enjoy these 10 ways to encourage language development while reading books to your child.
10 Ways to encourage language development while reading to your child:
1. Create literacy opportunities. Keep reading fun by introducing new books and experiencing reading in different settings. Visit your local library for a story hour, or check out new books at a book store. Introduce books that have topics meaningful to your child, such as an upcoming holiday, starting school, or a favorite TV character.
2. Make it a date. Set a regular time to read to your child. It might be right before bedtime, or during afterschool snack. Be as consistent as possible so your child can look forward to their daily one-on-one reading time with mom or dad.
3. Introduce new vocabulary. Talk about new words, and give your child examples. For example, if the word is giant, you might tell your child “Giant means big. A dinosaur is giant! Can you think of some giant things?” Try to use their new vocabulary words throughout the following week.
4. Label pictures, and describe what is happening. Label different objects and actions on each page. You might even encourage your child to find the objects or actions that you name (“Can you find the monkey? There he is!” or “Who is sleeping… That’s right! Cat is sleeping.”).
5. Ask your child questions about what’s happening in the story. By asking your child questions while reading, you can monitor their comprehension, while also practicing various wh- questions. For example: “Who has an umbrella?”, “What is mama bear doing?” or “Where is the dog?”.
6. Let your child fill in words. As your child becomes familiar with a particular book, leave out key words and let your child fill them in. This works especially well in repetitive books such as Brown Bear Brown Bear. You might say “Brown bear brown bear, what do you ___?”
7. Make predictions. This is an excellent way to build inferencing, problem solving and imagination. Brainstorm with your child what might happen in the story, or how a character might solve a particular problem.
8. Talk about emotions. Look at pictures of characters’ facial expressions, and talk about how they might be feeling. Encourage your child to reflect on why they might be feeling that way.
9. Retell the story in your own words. As your child becomes more comfortable with a particular book, encourage them to be the “reader”, by using the pictures to tell the story in their own words.
10. Make your own book. Print out pictures from a family outing or event. Help your child sequence the pictures in the correct order, and glue them in a construction paper book. Help your child create sentences to go with each picture, and then share book with family and friends.
11. Read your child’s cues. Let your child set the pace, and look for signs that indicate whether or not they are enjoying reading. Reading should be a positive experience, so avoid forcing your child to read beyond their attention span. Don’t worry if your child only wants to read part of a book before moving on. Instead, give them lots of positive praise for moments when they share or listen. Let them know how much your enjoyed your time reading with them.