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Reading to your child can be a very special and rewarding experience. Reading together can help your child develop a love for books, increase vocabulary, and build other literacy skills. It also creates a special bond between you and your child as you snuggle while reading a story together!
Whether you are reading a book, an eBook, a magazine, flashcards, street signs, or a cereal box, reading is a perfect way to engage your child. Use the story or message to start simple conversations; look at the pictures and relate them to your child's own experiences and surroundings; point out words on the page to make him aware that words have specific sounds and meanings. All of this will help him become excited about reading and learning. Here are some tips to help you have an enjoyable, rewarding, and rich book experience wherever you are!
Invite Your Child to Make Predictions
Encourage your child to look at the cover of the book and make a prediction about what the story will be about. As you read or listen to a story together, continue to ask questions such as, "What do you think will happen next?" Making predictions can help your child summarize a story's events and can increase her interest in finding out how the story will end.
Ask "What" Questions
Before you read a page, ask your child to look at the pictures on the page and tell you what is happening. Point to specific objects and have him identify and describe them. Encouraging your child to talk about the story and name the items in the book can give him an opportunity to make connections between the text and the illustrations. It can also give you an opportunity to expand on what he says. Try to avoid questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no." Instead, ask open-ended questions. For example, if he points to a picture of a frog, ask, "What is the frog doing in the picture?"
You can increase your child's understanding of the story by making connections to her life. Relate story themes, events, or settings to any similar experience your child may have had. For example, if a character visited her grandmother in the story, you might ask, "Remember when we went to Grandma's house? What did you like doing most with her?"
Build on What Your Child Says
When you repeat what your child says, you acknowledge his participation. When you expand on what he says, you can also build her vocabulary. For example, if your child says, "That's a flower," you might say, "Yes! That's a pink tulip! Let's look at the different parts of the flower. Do you see the petals?"
Let Your Child Be The Guide
If your child comments on or asks a question about the story, follow her lead, even if it means pausing in the middle of the page. When you follow your child's interests, you encourage conversation and curiosity, and allow her to play an active role in the reading experience. Your child's interests should help guide what books you decide to read together!
Enjoy Your Time Together!
As you read and look at books together, have fun! Change your voice to represent different characters, and invite your child to repeat words and phrases. If you are listening to a book with audio, pause occasionally to question your child about the sillier sounds. Talk about the story after it's over and imagine different endings. A shared reading experience should be playful—it's an opportunity for you to learn new things, learn about each other, and have fun together!