Reading Aloud to Your Child

To make the most of these precious times, we give you ten tips for reading aloud with preschoolers:

  1. Set aside a regular time for reading, 20 minutes a day. If it's before bedtime, make sure to build in plenty of time so that everyone isn't too tired or rushed at the end of a long day.
  2. Take more time to read together whenever you can; keep books in you car or a favorite in your bag, for example, so that you always have one handy in case of a wait at the doctor's office, etc.
  3. Say the name of the book and the author and illustrator before you start reading to create awareness of what writers and artists do.
  4. Read slowly and with enough expression to allow your children to form mental images of the words they are hearing.
  5. Choose new books carefully to make sure they are appropriate. You want stories that will match you child's emotional level, but now and then provide an intellectual stretch with new words and concepts.
  6. Read stories that you also enjoy so that your kids can see how much you like reading too. There are so many wonderful children's books out there to choose from!
  7. Be willing to reread books as often as your child wants. Kids asking for repetition means they are still learning from the story. Children also enjoy the sense of mastery that comes from memorizing a story and being able to "read" it themselves.
  8. Answer questions patiently and discuss the story with open-ended questions and observations. But don't force a discussion if your child is too absorbed in the story or just not interested.
  9. If you have children of different ages, read to them together, but also make time to read to each of them separately, picking books that are at their level. A two-year-old and a five-year-old, for example, can both enjoy picture books, but the older one will also like more complex stories and chapter books, while the little one will especially adore rhymes and shorter books with lots of repetition.
  10. If you don't have as much time as you'd like to read aloud, books on cd make a great substitution. Even better, record yourself reading a few favorites, and ask grandma or grandpa to do the same.