Even before your child can read for himself, you can give him an ear for language, a thirst for learning and a love of books. Researchers now know that a child’s early experiences with books greatly influence his ability to learn to read. Entering kindergarten with these early literacy skills increases a child’s chances for academic success.
Reading aloud opens the door for readers
Reading aloud and sharing stories with your child provides a foundation for reading and helps your child build the skills and concepts he needs before he can learn to read:
- Print Motivation: An interest in books and reading.
- Narrative Skills: The ability to describe things and events and tell stories.
- Letter Awareness: The understanding that letters are different from each other, and the eventual recognition of their names and sounds.
- Book and Print Awareness: The consciousness of letters and words on a page, and knowing how to handle a book.
- Vocabulary: The ability to understand and use the correct names for things.
- Phonological Awareness: The ability to identify the smaller sounds in words.
Nine tips for reading with your child
- Read aloud. Plan time each day to read aloud to your child. As you read, make sure your child can see the illustrations. Explain words that your child does not understand, using the illustrations to help. After reading a story, discuss it with your child. Reread the same book several times.
- Follow me. Point to each word as you say it, letting your child watch as you point to the words in order, move down line by line and go from one page to the next. This activity will help your child learn that reading goes from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom.
- Cover to cover. Before you begin a story, explore the parts of the book with your child. Talk about the front cover, back cover, first page and last page. Read the names of the author and illustrator and look at their pictures and biographies. Help your child learn to name the parts of a book.
- Think about it. As you read to your child, pose questions about the story. For example, ask: How do you think the pig feels? Why do you think she feels happy? What was your favorite part of the story?
- Say it again. When you read a story that repeats the same word or phrase many times, let your child say it each time it appears. Read until it becomes clear that a particular word or phrase is repeated. Then tell your child that the next time you come to the word or phrase, you will stop and give the signal for him to say it.
- Everyday reading. Books are not the only print material you can read aloud with your child. You can also read mail, package labels, menus, signs or instructions. Read the print aloud and talk about why what you are reading is important or helpful.
- Bringing it home. When you read with your child, help him make connections between stories and real life. Ask: Do you know anybody who is like that? Have you ever felt that way? What would you do if that happened to you?
- Read me a story. Let your child “pretend read” a story he knows well. Have him hold the book, turn the pages and “read” the book to you. He will use memory and illustrations to tell the story in his own words.
- Find the word. Before or after you read a story, point out a word that is repeated many times in the story, such as bear or pig. Ask him to find the word on other pages.