Many of you may have children who will not allow you to look at books with them. Others, may have children who allow you to join them, but now as an early readers, they want to read the books themselves. Hopefully, some of the following tips will bring you success when reading books interactively with your child:
For little ones, who won't allow you to join them in book reading, the following may be helpful:
- Make book reading part of a predictable daily routine. If you read books at the same time every day (i.e., after lunch, before nap, at bedtime, in the bathtub), your child will begin to anticipate that it's time to read together, versus having to shift his attention.
- Create a routine around your book reading, so your child will know what to expect. For example:
2. Let your child choose between 2-3 books
3. Go to your cozy reading spot
4. Read, laugh and enjoy - Don't expect to read every page. Point to and label some the
pictures, help your child turn the pages, acknowledge your child's interests, keep it
quick and positive! You can add more tomorrow!
- At first, find a consistent reading spot. Sitting in the same place each time you read together, will help your child know it is time for reading books. This could be in your child's bed, on your sofa, or in a bean bag chair on the floor. When I taught an Early Childhood Special Education Classroom, we read books inside a playhouse structure and in a tent in my classroom. The enclosed structures were helpful for those little ones who had difficulty attending to stories.
- Position yourself so you can see your child's face and he can see yours for better joint attention. This will allow you to see where his attention or focus is (follow his eyes, notice his facial expressions) and talk about it. If you are talking about what is interesting to him, your child doesn't have to shift his attention and will be more likely to stay engaged for longer periods of time.
- Choose books that are interesting to your child. For example, if your child is interested in a special topic (i.e., Dinosaurs), include books related to that topic. If your child enjoys music, choose books about songs (i.e., Itsy Bitsy Spider). If your child enjoys watching objects move include books with flaps (i.e., Where is Baby's Birthday Cake) or moveable parts (i.e., Wheels on the Bus). Note: Do not feel you have to read each word, or every page of the story. For many of our little ones, book reading begins by talking about the pictures on each page using single words or simple phrases.
- Take turns with your child (naming the pictures, turning the pages, and pulling the tabs, or opening the flaps of the interactive books). Name a picture as you point or lift a flap, and then wait to see if s/he will take a turn (naming, lifting a flap, pointing to picture, etc.)
- Agree that you will read two books together - one read by you and the other read by your child. This way your child gets practice being a reader, as well as, a listener.
- Remember to use as many comments as you do questions, so your book reading feels like a conversation and not like a test to your child. If your child feels he's being tested, he will feel pressured and won't enjoy reading books with you.
- During your book reading, relate details from the story to your child's real life. For example, if the character in the story goes to the dentist and your child has recently been to see the dentist, discuss how the character's experience is similar or different from your child's. This helps your child to better understand the story.
- Use the pictures in the story to talk about how the character feels. For example, you might say, "Look! Goldilock's eyebrows are raised, her eyes are really big and her mouth is open like this (as you demonstrate on your face). How do you think she is feeling?
- Use books to help your child learn to predict others behavior. Anticipating or predicting what others might do, or what might happen in a situation, can help your child become less anxious and more flexible. For example, when reading the story Goldilocks and The Three Bears you could say, "Oh no, Goldilocks broke baby bears chair. I wonder how Baby Bear will feel when he comes home and sees his broken chair?"