Thursday, July 20, 2006

Reading with a Young Child


I have a very busy two year old boy. One of the first ways he would actually sit in my lap for any longer than one hug took and sit still for any length of time was for me to read him a book. I don't know exactly when he started being a good "reader." I know it was before two, probably around eighteen months. I still remember his face (and still glimpse it occasionally) as he backed into my lap, sat down, and waited expectantly for the magic of the pages to unfurl.

Here are a few tips that make reading enjoyable and educational:

1. Pick books that are appealing to both of you. You might appreciate the style of the art, or the rhymes, or the humor. He might appreciate the subject matter or the animal sounds.

2. I love the simple stories and beautiful art of Eric Carle's books, specifically The Very Busy Spider (one of Kyle's current favorites) and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and the follow up Polar Bear. . . . What Do You Hear? which were Amanda's favorites years ago.

3. Speaking of animal sounds, books with sound effects and animals are big hits, guaranteed to hold their interest and teach them something new. How do you think so many toddlers know that a cow says moo and a dog says woof?

4. Ham it up! You might not be a classically trained actor, but here's a place where you can let it all hang out, so make sure you can moo with the best of them. The sound of a child laughing or the look of an enraptured smile is worth a little melodrama.

5. If you have trouble being silly, read some Sandra Boynton. Her verse is good and silly and kids love it (and it's a little sappy for us moms to enjoy, too). We especially like Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! and Pajama Time!

6. Change your definition of "reading." When we first started reading together, he was very interested in turning the pages. If the pages had more than a few words, I just didn't finish the sentence if he was trying to turn the page. That's okay. He has a longer attention span now, but if he is ready to turn the page, I usually turn it. He is getting to a point where he no longer wants to sit with me when he's in his room before nap. But he still wants me to read. So, I read to him while he plays with Little People, or goes through his other stacks of books. Other times during the day if he brings me a book, he actually sits still and follows along. So, instead of forgoing the reading time, because he's not doing it "right," I have adjusted it to fit his needs.

7. Take advantage of the new "sights" you come across in the books, instead of just reading the text. Take time to ask the child, "Where's the monkey?" "Which ball is red?" "How many flowers are there?"

8. Don't be afraid of repetition. You may not like it, but they do, and I think it's probably good for their little brains. We've been reading the same three books at naptime and bedtime for a week (with no waning interest yet). He can recite the phrase that repeats throughout the one of the books. That's language development right there. If you think that you are both ready for something new, put away the favorites out of sight for a little while.

9. Let the child finish the sentence, and even point to the words. She will learn that the words go along with the sounds. Some nice ABC books and 123 books, which are boring to me, and do not generally follow along my tip number 1, are great for teaching new words, and reminding them about letters and numbers. Once you've looked through them a few times together, these become great books for her to "read" alone by pointing to the picture and saying the word.

10. Build into your day times for reading aloud. I am guilty enough of delaying naptime or bedtime until the last moment. Then when he wants to read (more than one or two books), I balk. Even a reluctant reader will get used to this as part of routine. They may wise up to the fact that wanting to read delays bedtime, but that's okay if you move bedtime up a few minutes to allow for this.

11. Make sure books are always available. I'm a big fan of board books. They don't rip and the pages are easy to turn, so they become toys. There's a bin of books in his room, a basket in our study, in the car, and even in his bed.

12. Just say "yes." He will bring me books throughout the day. I often say no, but I am trying to say yes more often. I haven't clocked it, but I'm sure it doesn't take me more than three or four minutes to read one of his books.

13. Make a goal to read a certain number of books or minutes to your child each day. If you don't have a target, you are sure to miss it. I really believe that if they grow to enjoy books as toddlers and preschoolers, that they have a better chance of staying interested in reading as they grow up.

Along those lines, accountability and a little competition is always good for me to do what I know I should be doing anyway, so I'm thinking of hosting some sort of read aloud challenge. I missed Mother Reader's 48 hour reading and blogging challenge, but followed it on Jen Robinson's Book Page as she participated (you can read an article written about it here) but it's something I would have loved to try to do.

Does this sound interesting to anyone? I'm going to do it myself for sure, and report back. If others are interested, I'll write up some guidelines and set a timeframe (I'm thinking the first part of August for myself). Each person would need to commit to one day of reading aloud. We could log our time spent and blog about what kind of difference it made in our days.

And remember, reading aloud isn't just for pre-readers. If I can come up with 13 relevant things to say, I will focus on reading aloud with the older child next week.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


35 comments:

MysteriousLady said...

Thanks for the book ideas! I'll try them out on the grandchildren!

Have a wonderful thursday!

Kimmy said...

Great tips! My son's 10 now with a 7th-8th grade reading level. He loves to read... I read to him every night from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Now I enjoy him reading to me ;)
Stinky Cheese Man is still one of our favorites from "long ago" ;)

Pass The Torch said...

This is a super Thursday 13! Well done. Thanks for visiting mine already!

Jennifer Sprague, All Natural Mommies said...

WOW, what an awesome post...I would love to link to it on my blog...it's got alot of very awesome idea's and thoughts!!!

Do you mind?

Happy0303 said...

Great list and very informative. I've always liked Eric Carle's books.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

that is a wonderful list!! such great tips. I am trying to read outloud more to my son. Right now we are doign the Narnia series.

I might be interested in that idea of yours - let me know more if you are goign to do it.

Raggedy said...

Great list...
My TT is up

FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

Good suggestions. My grandson just turned 2 but loves to hear stories.
My T13 is up too and hope you enjoy the tour.

Something's Missing said...

My DD and I ham it up all the time. She has about the most expression in her class. I've taught her that reading is all about pretending -- it works! The rest are great suggestions, too!

My Thursday Thirteen is up.

armywife said...

#13 is so so true. great job with your list

i've posted 13 too at
http://blog.myspace.com/christengarland

Knitting Maniac said...

Brown Bear is the first book my son ever read. I LOVE Eric Carle's books. We have a lot of them. And the Very Busy Spider... my first had me read that to her ALL the time.

My TT is up, too.

Mom Nancy said...

I love doing voices. Our daughter is 16 and before we adopted our son, I read the Harry Potter books out loud to the family and for the first two books I had a different voice for each character (before the movies came out) and after awhile it got hard to keep the voices straight, but it was fun and if I'd mess up one, my daughter would say, "That's not how Hagrid sounds."

Thanks for visiting my TT.

Carmen said...

I think it's great when parents read with their kids. This is why I could read when I went to kindergarden. :)

Karen said...

my favorite- and I buy it for everyone- is How Do Dinosaurs say Goodnight?
great tips to share- thanks.

Katrina said...

Great list, Jennifer! We're big fans of Eric Carle and Sandra Boynton, too. And great point about repitition - there were books that we read at least 100 times, but that was okay - he loved them and like you mentioned, they helped his language development, etc. One more tip I would add - for both younger and older kids - is to let your kids see you reading your own books, too. I think that adds to their understanding that reading is a lifelong pleasure.

eph2810 said...

Well, we started really early with our son (who is now 21) reading 'together'. And you are right - they like rhymes and it is wonderful to hear when they giggle. Even after the hundreth time you read the book.:)
Have a blessed day.

Code Yellow Mom said...

I like, "Just say Yes" the best! One of the great things to learn as a mom, especially as pertains to reading.

Great T13!

AuntieM said...

I wish I had read more to my daughter, but she turned out alright.....and is an author & poet.

Thanks for visiting my TT, and enjoy your day.

Minerva Jane said...

I know some of my fondest memories are of reading with my parents when I was young. When I was learning to read, I'd read a chapter, then my mom, then m dad. When my sister was old enough she joined in too. Fantastic and probably the reasonw why I'm a writer today. My TT is up too! Check it out at goddessinthecity.blospot.com

Gail said...

Great list! Reading with my kids is one of my most favorite memories of when they were little, it's a very good thing!
I played.

Barbara said...

Reading to children when they are young makes them good readers when they get older. My kids loved to be read to, and could read before they went to Kindergarten. They grew up with Dr. Seuss' books and more. You have a good lists of to-do's, too!

My TT is up.

Mama Duck said...

Thanks for the ideas, I'm trying them on my little guy ;).

Dorothy said...

Fantastic list. I used a ton of these on my sprites. Go Dog Go! was our potty-time book. But I found both kids loved poetry. The sound, the rhyme, so we got into that pretty early. Scripture reading is also fantastic. Kids who read the scriptures with their parents will have higher reading scores. Vocabulary and context are greatly enhanced. When my son was in 3rd grade we were homeschooling. One of his spelling words was vineyard. His sentence for the week for that word was "Come, let us go down and labor in the vineyard". :~D.

Crystal Breeze said...

Me and my daugther are in a book club through our church. We missed the first meeting but we will make the next one. I love to read to my kids. More importantly they read to me now. My son is alittle slow but he hates reading too. My daughter on the other hand can read the newpaper and even novels. She always has a book in her hand.

Denise said...

Wonder TT! I've been lax about reading to my son lately and miss our together time - like yours, it's one of the few times he'll sit still in my lap. One of his favorites is NO David. He could read that one every night and not get board of it. Thanks for the great ideas & happy Thursday!!

Shannon said...

Just started reading to the girls before they go to bed. Great ideas. Thanks.

Keltybug said...

Wonderful list. I will use some of your tips for sure. Thanks!

Tracie said...

Those are great tips. My daughter is almost 3, and very big on reading. She not only likes me to read her books to her, but if I am reading the paper or one of my books she will sit still pretty long and listen to that if I read it out loud.

angela said...

these are great ideas and I know I don't do enough of this...thanks for the reminder.

J-Dawg's Realm said...

Thank you so much for the recent post on my blog. I love you T13. Looks like I have alot more reading to do! :)

J-Dawg

Jen said...

Thanks for stopping by, we're still having tummy trouble at my house!

These are some really good ideas about reading to kids. It can be hard to do, but it's so important and so rewarding for you both!

Christine said...

Brown bear, Brown bear, is my son's favorite book! I enjoyed your list!

mums-talk said...

My son loves to read. I have also set a time to read with him. I will focus on new words, morale of the story, get him to predict what will happen next as I read. Thanks for your tips.

mums-talk said...

hi, I just found this link - Discovering the Written Word at

http://www.pbs.org/parents/readinglanguage/kindergartner/main.html. Extremely useful.

Pleasant View Family said...

I love your 6th tip about redefining 'reading'.

I published a free handbook called, "Reading for Life", that lists 64 preschool books that promote healthy child development. It also includes discussion questions for each book, and tips for encouraging reading at home and school.

You can find it at www.theassetedge.net in the library section. If you like it, please share it with your friends and teachers!

Thanks for your post!

ann at mommysecrets.blogspot.com