Early exposure to reading aloud has such a long-term influence on children’s outcomes, pediatricians in the United States are now required to “prescribe” reading to parents of all babies from birth! Children love when their parents or loved ones read aloud to them at home. It’s a special time with their parents, where bonding is created. Here are 10 tips on how you can create that special bond with your child, and help them love the wonderful world of reading.
1. Be a role model
When reading to your child, demonstrate and model how fun it is to read. He/she will see that if you are having fun while you read the story, they will enjoy it even more! It will also incentivize them in asking you to read the story again or they might even pick a different book for you to read to them! Read a book, newspaper in front of them, it will help them learn that reading is a daily life activity.
2. Share what you read with your child
During your day-to-day activities, do a narrative of what you are doing. This action will assist your child in linking words into phrases and then phrases into sentences. For example, if you are going to cook, and you will be using a cookbook recipe, read out loud the instructions. The same activity can be done with board games, laundry detergent bottles, toothpaste, anything that has instructions will work.
3. Create reading routines
Set aside a special time during the day for reading. The time could be anytime that works for you, examples of this could be: bedtime, during breakfast, or a separate special family time where everyone can sit on the couch and listen to stories. The idea is to get that special family bonding time for this activity. Read at least once per day, but if you want to do it more, its better!
4. Follow your child’s lead
While you are reading, your child might get distracted, especially if your child is a baby or toddler. It’s completely normal. Let your child linger around the room while you continue reading or just finish the page. Read your child’s cues, and decide if you want to continue reading or stop for a later time. At times your child will want to linger over and over a certain scene or a favorite book. I know it will be tiresome and boring to you, but your baby is actually learning, and repetition creates a sense of security that is a basic need for every human being. Your child wants to know all the details of the story, so he/she could retell the story later. See this article, here, for more information.
5. Choose books that you enjoy
Choosing books that you enjoy reading will truly demonstrate to your child that you really ARE enjoying it. Nothing is worse than to read a story that you do not like, your child will pick up on that. The whole purpose of reading to your child will be ineffective. When picking up books, read them before you buy them, or if buying online, read the excerpts and reviews before you decide that the desired book is the right fit for your family.
6. Be adventurous
Find books that explore different themes and topics. For example, Barefoot Books has a variety of themes and topics. They specialize in books that talk about different cultures and diversity, mindfulness, farming, S.T.E.M., and more! Scholastic, on the other hand, may have more traditional books, like: The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Mother Goose Stories, etc. Read the story or book at least once, before reading it to your child. You want to get a gist of the dialogue and the scenes. This way you can be prepared for any type of question(s) that your child may ask, and you can provide ideas and true-life events for you and your family on how to deal with certain topics that may be delicate.
7. Be creative in the narrative
Use funny voices when the story invites a dialogue. Your child will have an awesome time, and may even imitate you! You might even laugh the first time you do your funny voice, but with time you will become an expert. Imagine that you are an actor and your child is the audience, do a performance for him/her, I promise you he/she will love it!
8. Be dramatic
Do not read in a monotone voice, follow reason #7, put some effort into it! Dramatize the story physically, stand up, raise your arms, do funny faces, tickle your child. Use your imagination, and be creative!
Sometimes we need a little flare into the reading routine. If one day, after the millionth time that you are reading a book to your child, you get an impromptu idea for the story, improvise! Don’t think it twice! Just do it! An example could be, reading under the covers with the light off and just a flashlight. Your child will follow your lead.
10. Be in-tune with your child’s responses
Talk to your child about what is happening in the story. Ask questions to your child about how he/she would’ve reacted differently from the character in the story. Ask questions about the setting where the story is taking place. Ask if he/she has seen similar places near your home, or if it resembles a familiar place previously visited. Ask open-ended questions when reading. The best kind of questions requires children to think about why something happened or predict what might happen next. (“Why do you think the boy is sad?” “What do you think will happen next?”) As a guide, ask questions that start with “what”, “how”, “why” and “when.”
As a final note, things to do this week with your child:
- Pick a book with your child, let him/her pick it out
- Set a day and time for you to start reading
- Talk about the book, and what you learned from this story
- The following day, repeat steps 1-3
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss,