Research clearly shows that reading books together with your children will give them a serious boost, both in their language and vocabulary development, as well as in their early literacy skills. It also supports the development of joint attention and turn-taking skills.
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As a speech-language pathologist, parents and other caregivers often ask me what they can do to support their child's language skills at home.
My answer? Shared reading.
The following is the advice I've often given parents and even teachers.
Here are some ways to maximize the benefits of shared reading with young children
While sharing storybooks with your child, there are things you can do before reading, during reading, and after reading to get the most out of your shared reading time.
Before Shared Reading:
By making shared storybook reading a part of your child’s daily routine, it will become something your child will expect and look forward to. At bedtime, before naps, or even during bath time are all great times to squeeze it in.
The books you choose should not have too many words per page and should have just enough unfamiliar vocabulary words. This will make sure that you’re picking books your child can understand.
Choose stories that have characters, problems, and solutions, rather than books with no plot. Here are ten books I highly recommend for preschoolers.
Kids enjoy reading the same stories multiple times. Keep a container of good books right where you’ll need them and allow your child to choose from it. You can change them out for new ones every so often.
First and foremost: Have fun! Shared reading should be a warm and collaborative experience. Asking children too many questions, especially difficult questions, may turn them off.
Ask your child to be the “page-turner” by turning each page when it’s time. This will help them to learn that it is important that every word on the page is read before we can turn the page.
As you read, pause to highlight the problems and solutions in the story. You can wonder together what characters might do next. Don’t be afraid to make predictions – it’s okay if they’re wrong!
As you come across them, take the time to emphasize unfamiliar words and explore their meanings, especially those words that are critical to understanding the events of the story.
Point to each word as you read and bring your child’s attention to specific words and letters. This will help increase their alphabet knowledge, as well as their understanding of how printed language works.
Highlight instances of rhyming words or words that begin with the same letter (alliteration). This will support children's phonological awareness, which is an important foundational literacy skill.
Tie items or events in the story to your child’s own experiences. This will activate their background knowledge and can support their comprehension of the events in the story.
After Shared Reading:
If your child is up for it, tell them it’s their turn to be the “reader.” Offer to be the “page-turner” while they retell the story, using the pictures as a cue. They don't have to remember all the details, but it gives them an opportunity to try to say things in their own words and to try out novel vocabulary.
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