|ARTICLES FOR PARENTS|
How Best to Read to Your Child
By Beth Witt, M.A.
|One of the most wonderful
gifts parents can give children is a love for books. Many studies have
concluded that children who are read to early are much more likely to
succeed in school – and in life!
|Children who regularly see
their parents read, have books routinely available around their home,
and have parents who began to read to them as babies develop some
They learn to love and appreciate books – as sources of entertainment and new information.
Children’s horizons are expanded with books: They learn new vocabulary and gain ideas about how to think and behave. They learn to “walk in the shoes of others”, to look at situations from another point of view. They develop curiosity!
|How can parents read
effectively to their children? After all, children are changing so fast
during the period from infancy to first grade.
Children do differ. Their personalities, abilities, attention spans, interests, their receptiveness to an adult with a book – all may vary. However, alert parents can learn to vary their reading styles.
|Changing Interactions and Expectations|
|The following hints are
likely to work for children who are the ages – or stages – stated.
Some older or delayed preschoolers’ interests and understanding may
better fit in with some of the suggestions for younger children.
|The Infant and Toddler of 9 to 15 months|
|Babies this age like to play
the “naming game." Parents often find themselves naming objects
for their babies – constantly answering to “wassat? – Wassat?!”
This is a good time to introduce children to very simple books. Infants and toddlers at this age will be most receptive to “looking and listening” only briefly. You can use the book as if it were an object that does things to the toddler. For example, a truck-shaped book can be driven on the child’s arm –“Beep, beep!” A pictured puppy can nip at the child’s nose: “Puppy get nose!”
Books with a few simple pages are good to use, especially those with thickened cardboard pages – easy for stubby little fingers to try to turn. Pictures of beloved objects (teddy bears, pet dogs) and familiar home routines (bathing, eating, bedtime, playing) are most likely to interest little ones. “See Doggie! Woof, woof!” “Baby. Taking bath. Wash, wash, baby!”
Using the same books regularly – using the books as toys to play with babies, touching children’s fingers to the named pictures – can prepare tiny ones to focus their attention, however briefly, on pictures that stand for real-life things.
|The Toddler of 15 to 24 Months|
|Children in this age range
are very intent on improving their movement skills and establishing
their independence. “No!” may be their favorite word. Sitting may
not be a priority. Choosing a good time to read can be important if
storybooks are to become a pleasant experience for parent and child. A
time of relative calm in the day, such as after bath time and before the
final goodnight, often works.
These little explorers like to do things to their books. The parent who is reading a story about eating out at a fast-food restaurant may wish to give the child a toy cup, a napkin, or a spoon – some object with which the child can “get into” the story: “Baby’s eating French fries. Oh, he’s got ketchup all over his face! Clean it off!” The parent can help the little one take a napkin and wipe the pictured baby’s face.
Favorite books at this stage will be asked for – and should be shared – over and over again. Books of interest to these children will have colorful pictures of events familiar in their environment: home routines, shopping, riding in a car, visiting grandparents, going to the park.
Actual “reading” will not be as much fun for children at this age as talking about the actions in the pictures: “Mama and Baby are going bye-bye. Wave to Daddy!!”
These little children also enjoy “touch and feel” books, such as Pat the Bunny.
Parent should respond to the children’s inquiries or comments in a way that lets them know the truth of what they said and/or adds information to it:
Parent: “No, that’s a slide.”
Baby: “He b’ushin”
Parent: “Yes, he’s brushing his teeth!”
|The 2 to 4 year old: Learning about others|
|These little people, having
established their independence, are really eager to learn all about
objects and people. They really want to know the functions of objects
and the roles people play. They notice different parts of objects and
animals. Reading adults can begin to describe actions in stories,
linking them together in simple ways:
“Look at that messy room! These children better pick up those toys! Mama will get mad!”
“It’s a cold day! Put your coat on, Sister, because you don’t want to get cold outside!”
The adult will want to combine single
words and short phrases. Providing children opportunities to “fill in
the blanks” can include children in the story as well as teach them:
|Kindergarten: Preparing to Read|
|It is really fun to read to 5
year olds. They understand that books have stories told in printed
words. Some may not need pictures to make sense of the story. More
active children, however, still benefit from pictures. Many 5 year olds
can retell a story and really give the “gist” of it. They may like
to draw and colour pictures about favourite stories. Some may even
recognize printed words or letters that start words: “That starts with
C – like my name!”
The most successful of these 5 year olds will, of course, be the long-read-to ones!
READ to your little ones!! Remember, though, book time should ALWAYS be FUN!!!!
|Reproduced from “Parent
&Mac251; 1995 by Communication Skill Builders, a division of the Psychological Corporation (1-800-866-4446)
|Articles for Parents|
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