When kids sit next to a caring adult and hear engaging stories, they develop positive associations with books. Reading aloud to your child strengthens the part of their brain associated with visual imagery, the ability to understand stories and word meaning. When you read to your five-year-old, they pick up on important book smarts, like how to hold a book, which direction to turn the pages, what an author is and where to find the title. These skills are called "concepts about print," and they help kids prepare to be successful independent readers.
Make the most out of story time:
Make Story Predictions
Experts recommend that parents and caregivers ask kids to predict what will happen next when reading a book together. This builds key literacy skills such as understanding sequencing, plot structure, character motivation and cause and effect. It's as simple as stopping periodically and asking questions like:
What do you think is going to happen next?
Oh no! What is she going to do now?
What would you do if you were him?
How are they going to solve this problem?
After they share their idea, respond with "Let's keep reading and find out what happens."
Give Kids a "Part"
Predictable books follow a pattern — such as repeated lines or obvious sequences (days of the week, letters or numbers). Young kids love "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" and, more recently, the Pete the Cat series, because they can quickly anticipate what comes next and can become involved in the reading experience. Once children pick up on the pattern, prompt them to recite key lines or complete a sentence that you start. Nursery rhymes and rhyming books, such as "The Cat in the Hat" or "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," also help to get children involved in the story
Get a Library Card
Parents sometimes struggle to find books that will hold their child's attention. The children's room at your local library can be your best ally. Browse the stacks and displays or — better yet — ask the librarian for recommendations based on your child's age and interests. Many libraries host story hour — a great opportunity not only to expose your child to reading but also to hear how another adult reads and engages kids with books.
Make Connections to Real Life
Strong readers aren't passive — their minds are constantly making connections between what they read and the world around them. As you read aloud, pause to connect the book to other books you have read together, to your memories or to places or events you both know.