Our guest blogger Beth O’Connor, a childhood development expert from The Family Connection of St. Joseph County, IN, Inc. shared with us tips for reading with children and why it’s so beneficial.
Reading to children and infants provides a lovely opportunity for closeness and connection. Babies love to be held and spoken to so use books as an opportunity to make a physical and emotional connection. Taking the time to share books helps parents tune in to their child’s interests, point of view, and unique approach to the world and express to their babies that spending time with them, sharing words and stories are all important. Books are a natural way to encourage the give and take of conversations, both verbally and non-verbally, as well as discovering the sounds and patterns of language, such as rhymes. Lively illustrations and appealing stories bring joy and pleasure to children and what could be better than that?
Tips on reading with infants
- Infants are sensory learners so let them experience books by holding the book or turning the pages
- Have a range of types of books including cloth, vinyl, and sturdy board books
- Explore each page by talking about the pictures and making a connection specifically to that child
Reading with younger toddlers
- Use your face and voice to help children engage with the story
- When children point, they are inviting you to help them broaden their vocabulary
- Follow the child’s lead and be prepared for lots of back and forth in the reading
Reading with older toddlers
- Some older toddlers are ready for small group read-alouds. Short, simple text with bright and engaging illustrations work best
- Many children want the same books re-read as they become familiar with the characters and the story and continue to find joy and excitement in the telling
- Older toddlers are interested in the emotions and feelings of the characters. Ask simple questions and relate the emotions to the child’s own experiences Ask the child to predict what might happen or what caused the series of events in the story
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