As a Children’s Librarian, one of the saddest stories I have ever heard was about a mom who waited to start reading to her child until he learned how to speak! According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
Children have a reading level and a listening level. They can understand books on a higher reading level by listening to them which also develops their listening skills. When you read a book aloud to your child you are exposing him to vocabulary words that you may not use. Since many children don’t learn how to read until they are 3 years old and older, caregivers can start exposing them to words that build a foundation for reading.
There are many reasons we read to our children: entertainment, information, and inspiration. But in the process of reading aloud, you’re also bonding with your child, expanding their vocabulary, and modeling how to read. Reading aloud also helps children expand their imaginations.
Tips for reading aloud:
- Reading a book together more than once is perfectly fine. After you’ve read it a few times, ask your child to retell the story in his own words.
- Some children find it difficult to listen to a story without doing something else so providing crayons and paper helps them to concentrate.
- Introduce puppets and props while reading.
- Vary your voice.
- Make connections with whatever you’re reading. If there’s an illustration of a truck, show your child how it resembles his toy truck.
- Ask your child to point to things in the story, or repeat interesting ideas.
- Some children prefer non-fiction books. Remember to also read books with rhymes and alliteration.
- Talk about the parts of a book: title, author, illustrator, cover, and the correct way to hold it.
The Islip Library has a display case dedicated to board books in the Children’s Atrium for our very youngest patrons. The thick cardboard pages are much harder to tear than a regular book and generally have varying amounts of words. We subscribe to monthly magazines that are suitable for very young children, Babybug and Zoobies. We have an extensive picture book collection with stories on nearly every topic. Our illustrated book collection is ideal for school-aged children interested in a picture book format with content appropriate for more mature readers. Check out the following links for read-aloud book suggestions for that perfect bonding time with your child.