The moms at preschool are talking about how they started reading to their kids even before they were born, and you’re feeling negligent. You thought reading to your baby (never mind your belly) was a little crazy. And your child was always more interested in chewing on a book than in absorbing any meaningful storyline.
Now you’re wondering: Did you make a mistake in foregoing those drool-soaked books?
The good news is, it’s never too late to start reading to your child. So don’t beat yourself up. Your child can still reap the benefits of being read to – whatever age you start turning pages together.
By reading together, you can help your preschooler with some basic skills, such as understanding that books are read from front to back, pages from left to right. She’ll see that pictures should be right-side up, and she’ll learn that words have different sounds in them. All of these lessons come with continual exposure to books, so make it part of your daily routine. A bedtime story is a great way to settle down from the hectic pace of a busy day.
Another benefit of reading aloud to your child is that he’ll learn new words and ideas. You’re expanding his vocabulary, and he’s getting to know words he’ll need to communicate effectively. You’re also exposing him to ideas and concepts that might not otherwise be accessible to him.
Don’t know where to start? At the local bookstore, find the children’s section and let your child pick out books based on the picture on the cover. At the library, ask a children’s librarian to steer you in the right direction. If your child has a particular interest, such as cooking, the librarian can help you find age-appropriate books related to that subject matter. The librarian can also direct you toward books that are popular for your child’s age. And, she may have ideas for simple activities you can do together – or a book you can look at to get some.
Once you’ve got the books in hand, realize you may read the same story over and over. And that’s OK – repetition is a great way for your child to learn. Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy, offers the following tips:
- Let your child turn the pages
- Show your child the cover page. Explain what the story is about.
- Make the story come alive. Create voices for the story characters and use your body to tell the story.
- Ask questions about the story: What do you think will happen next?
- Let your child ask questions about the story. Use it as an opportunity to engage in conversation and talk about familiar activities and objects.
- Let your child tell the story. Children as young as three years old can memorize a story. And, they often love having a chance to express their creativity.
Finally, set an example by reading for yourself. Your children will mirror your actions, and seeing that you are interested in reading will make it that much more appealing to them.