The other day I was at a friend’s house and she was reading to her child. Her two year old was NOT interested. But to be honest, my friend was not being very engaging. How are we supposed to teach children to be lifelong readers if we’re not making it enjoyable? Reading to small children can be a huge challenge. Is it even worth it? YES! Parents should read to their children every day, no matter how young, if possible. This is the best way to encourage your child to read. It is also a wonderful way to introduce a young person to the world of literature, which can bring them lifelong pleasure.
How you read with your children is important. There are particular ways to enhance the experience. Here five tips for reading effectively with young children.
- Discuss the cover first. Don’t just sit down, open up the book, and start reading. Set the stage by showing the child the cover and discussing it. If the child has heard or read other books by the same author, point to the author’s name and ask the child if they remember the previous book. Also, look at the illustration on the cover and ask your child to describe what it shows.
- Use different voices for the book’s characters. Deploy your imagination and your acting skills by creating a unique voice for each character. This multiplies the child’s interest in the story. Also, it’s exciting for a small child to hear their mother or father playing with voices.
- Allow relevant interruptions by the child. If your child interrupts the reading to ask a question or make a comment about the story, don’t be annoyed. This shows that the child is engaged. In fact, active listening is better than passively experiencing a book.
- Interrupt your own reading when there’s an educational opportunity. If you notice that your child seems confused by a word or expression, or if something in the story requires clarification, don’t hesitate to stop and explain. Your objective isn’t to get through the book as quickly as possible. Instead, the goal is to have an educational and fun reading experience.
- After getting to the end, talk about the book. When you have finished reading the last page of a book, don’t immediately stand up and walk away. The child will still be immersed in the story and may need to talk about it. So let the child speak, or ask them pertinent questions. This is the time to allow your child to explore all the dimensions of a story and absorb its meanings.
Reading a book to a young child is a glorious opportunity to enter into their imaginative world. You do this through the language, stories, and drawings of gifted authors and illustrators – and through your own interpretive skills. Story time can be a precious time for both parent and adult. Following these recommendations will help you both get the most out of the experience.