As a preschool teacher and mother of a toddler I love reading children’s books, and I think that it’s such a fun and easy way to connect with children.
Starting reading with your baby is a great way to bond. Babies learn new words, and enjoy the bright pictures. They can learn animal sounds and shapes by hearing them in short board books, even with no words. Reading with your baby can help them to develop a love for books, and reading a variety of books can teach them about different topics.
While you are reading to your baby he can sit on your lap, or you can get down on his level. You can point to pictures and name things, and let your child turn the pages. As your child grows encourage her to repeat words and you can respond to her when she point to pictures. Reading the same book repeatedly will build vocabulary and help your child to make the connection between words and pictures.
Reading books with preschoolers is a little more advanced. By now, these 3, 4 and 5 year olds know a lot more about the world around them. They can often relate books to their own life. They tell funny stories about their experiences. Reading with preschool kids helps them to recognize familiar words, and letters. They learn that stories have clear structure and specific elements. They also learn that all stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Children will begin to predict what might happen next, or what a story might be about based on illustrations and book covers.
Encourage your preschooler to “pretend” to read by looking at pictures and telling the story. They can read to their dolls or toys. Reading and rereading your children’s favorite books can help them to remember certain phrases and memorable refrains. (For example, Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see?) Also, reading rhyming and nonsense books with children will make reading fun. Making kids laugh while reading will keep them interested. Another important activity parents and caregivers can do while reading with a preschooler is to point to each word with your finger. This demonstrates to your child(ren) that there is a one-to-one match between the spoken and written words. Pointing as you read introduces and reinforces the idea that we read from top to bottom and from left to right. Ask lots of questions when you are reading, both open ended and closed. This really gets kids thinking and involved in the reading.
Starting reading early will set the foundation for children to love books and reading. The skill of understanding basic book and print rules will follow kids into school and help them become successful readers.