Tips for reading with your child

Reading to your child consistently has many benefits – even after they can read themselves. It helps them build a stronger relationship with you. It will help them do better in school. And during a healthcare visit, it can help alleviate stress and fear. Here are tips to help you read successfully with children of any age.

Babies (First year)

When reading to your baby:

  • Choose something simple and uncluttered. Black on white or white on black are best for newborns.
  • If possible, hold your baby on your lap, creating a cozy, cuddly time that promotes security.
  • Use good facial expressions, tone of voice and fun sounds.
  • As your baby discovers his/her hands, allow him/her to hold the book, touch it and turn the pages.
  • Allow exploration while showing that a book is different from an ordinary toy.

Infants love to:

  • Hear rhythm and rhyme and repetition.
  • See babies in books.
  • Touch and feel books add the use of another one of their senses.

Toddlers

When reading to your toddler:

  • Choose books with clear, large, realistic pictures. “Touch and Feel” books and “Lift the Flap” books are very popular.
  • Use good facial expressions, tone of voice and fun sounds.
  • If possible, hold your toddler on your lap creating a cozy, cuddly time, which promotes security.
  • Point to pictures and ask your child questions like; “What is it?”, “What is it doing?” or “What do you think is going to happen next?”
  • Read a loved book over and over. Toddlers love to hear their favorite books many times and will often fill in the words when you pause.
  • Let them hold the book, touch it and turn the pages.
  • Allow exploration while showing that a book is different from an ordinary toy.

Preschoolers

When reading to your preschooler:

  • Choose books that are not so lengthy, but have a fun story.
  • If possible, hold your child on your lap creating a cozy, comforting time, which promotes security.
  • Read a loved book over and over letting your preschooler fill in the words. Point to the words, so they know the letters mean something.
  • Let them “take charge” and hold the book and turn the pages.
  • Use different voices for different characters as you read. Add sounds to what is happening in the story.
  • Ask them questions about the characters in the story as you read, such as “Why do you think the monkey was scared?” or “How do you think Clifford got so big?”.

Preschoolers generally love books that:

  • Are about numbers and colors.
  • Feature nonsense sounds.
  • Show baby animals, such as puppies and kittens.
  • Have “pop ups” and “push the button” features.

5 and 6 year olds

When reading to (or with) your five or six year old:

  • Let your child choose a number of books that they’d like, and add two or three that you get to choose. Provide a variety of types of books, nonfiction, poems, picture books, etc.
  • Sit close, on lap if they would like that, allowing for a bonding time and a feeling of security.
  • Read the story with enthusiasm, good facial expression, voices, etc.
  • Ask questions during the story and encourage your child to ask questions.

Five and six year olds enjoy books:

  • About animals that talk and dinosaurs
  • Simple fairy tales with princesses and princess
  • Alphabet books
  • Pop-up books
  • Books where they can find words that they know
  • And if they’re reading, books that they can read all by themselves

7 and 8 year olds

Seven and eight year olds still like being read to. When reading to them:

  • Use good expression so the story comes alive
  • Talk about the characters and things that are happening
  • Encourage questions

Seven and eight year olds also enjoy:

  • Choosing their own books
  • More complex stories
  • Reading chapter or two at a time and waiting to see what is going to happen next
  • Joke and riddle books and humorous poetry
  • Search and find books
  • Books they can read themselves (they like to read out loud)

9 and 10 year olds

  • Want to choose their own books. Enjoy mysteries, informational books, drawing books, disgusting joke books, adventure books, drawing books, and trivia and fascinating facts
  • Enjoy taking turns reading together, or like being read to if they are not feeling well and need the distraction

11 and 12 years old

Pre-teens like to be read to when they are not feeling well and need the distraction. When reading to them:

  • Use good expression so the story comes alive
  • Ask interesting questions and encourage questions from them especially ones that cause them to really think and that might lead to checking out other sources for answers

They also:

  • Want to choose their own books
  • Enjoy series books, true stories, science fiction, adventure and survival stories, mysteries and horror stories
  • Enjoy reading magazines

13 and up

Teenage interests and needs vary a lot. Ask your child what they would like and if they would like you to read to them. When reading use the suggestions listed above

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