Tips for Reading to your Preschooler

11 October 2017

tips for reading to young children

Reading to your preschooler needs to be a daily event, just like mealtime, playtime, cleanup time, and bedtime. When reading becomes routine, it becomes a regular part of children’s lives-- something they come to depend on. This positive association makes reading more enjoyable, and as study's show, the repetition boosts children’s literacy development.

Here are seven tips to for reading aloud to your preschooler:

  1. Choose stories you like. Find children’s books you love, and share them often with your preschooler. When you share a book you love, you give your child a gift. Your child will feel your enthusiasm, benefit from your care in choosing the book, and feel valued by your thoughtfulness. I remember the big smile on my great granddaughter’s face when I said,” I bought this book for you because I know you like mermaids.” If you need a place to start, check out our Skilly-do Book Reviews for suggestions on appropriate preschool books.
  2. Select stories with bold pictures. There are many great children’s books that do not have bold pictures, but here’s the main point: Find illustrations that speak to you and are bold enough to be seen easily by your child. Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity and well-defined lines. Our Skilly-do book review, Cat on the Bus, is an example of this kind of children’s book with clear, clean lines, and bold pictures. Illustrations that are dull or too detailed won’t engage a young child. That said, no matter which style of illustrations you choose, be sure they excite or move you. For example, both Claire and I love the author/artists Eric Carle’s illustrations and because of this, included his classic book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as a Skilly-do book review.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the story before you read it to your child. If you read the book first, you’ll know if the book is too long for your reading time, or maybe the subject matter is not quite right. Also, when you know the story in advance, you can pique your little one’s interest before reading by giving an hint or a clue about what the story is about. For instance, “This story is about a funny way to measure things. Let's see how many you things can measure in the story.”
  4. Sit close to your child and make sure you’re both comfortable. Simply put, your preschooler needs to sit close to the book in order to see the illustrations. This, naturally, means sitting close to you. While you want to be close to your preschooler when you’re reading, be sure to give yourself enough room so you can easily turn the pages as well as point out things in the illustrations. In the bigger picture, by making reading an event that’s relaxed, comfy and pleasant for your child, you’ll establish reading as something to share, enjoy, and look forward to.
  5. Always mention the names of the author and illustrator. Each time you read a book, draw your child’s attention to the fact that individual artists are responsible for creating these beloved stories. Help your preschooler recognize similarities in different books that have the same author or illustrator. For example, you can compare Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar and Leo Lionni’s Inch by Inch found here on Amazon. Ask your child, pointing out shapes, colors, and brush stokes, how is the style different or similar in each of these books?
  6. Don’t be too dramatic. Reading out loud shouldn’t be boring, but keep in mind that most of the drama occurs in your little one’s mind. Artists’ words and images transform into magic inside a child’s imagination. The reader’s job is to support this-- not to overpower the story with wild gestures and overly dramatic voices. Let the story stand on it’s own. If the story has animals, of course you can make appropriate animal noises where necessary. The point is that your commentary fits in, but doesn’t take over.
  7. Have Fun! The most important tip for reading aloud to your preschooler is to enjoy it. Sharing good books is a wonderful way to nurture your child’s mind and emotions. Read books that you value, and your child will value reading, too.

Even with all of these tips, do you still happen to have a difficulties during reading time keeping your preschooler’s attention? Then check out my blog, Attention Span, It’s Short and Not Always Sweet for some helpful suggestions. As always, I look forward to hearing about your reading experiences.