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How to Read To Your Child to Support Language Development

Reading with your child is a great way to bond, form a positive relationship AND a great way to support their language development!

Start reading aloud to your child as early as possible!

Babies learn so much language from their environment and one of the best ways to create a language-rich environment for your child is to read to them! It is never too early (or too late!) to start reading.

Read often and in different settings!

Keep books all around your home (And in your purse! And in the car! And in the stroller!) so they’re easily accessible and are always an option when your child is looking for something to do.

Read the same books again and again!

Sometimes this can be tiresome for us as adults, but for kids, it’s an opportunity for learning! Kids learn through repetition and as we read the same books over and over, we’re helping our kids be comfortable with vocabulary words, concepts, and understanding of the narrative.

5 Tips to Making Reading Fun

1. Follow Their Lead

Let your kids pick out the books! If you’re reading a book that they aren’t interested in, no one is going to have a good time. Keep it FUN and find books that go along with your child’s interests. Does your child love vehicles? Go to the library (or YouTube during this time of COVID!) and find books on cars, trucks, planes, construction vehicles, trains, bicycles, anything you can find! Does your child love animals? Find books about the zoo, the farm, a veterinarian’s office, the ocean – and on and on.

2. Be Silly!

Use some silly voices for each character and add in some action noises like CRAAASH or squishhhh or BOOM! If you see an animal, make the animal noise! Lots of first words are animal sounds, so try modeling these sounds for your child. You can also try mimicking what the characters in the book are doing. Are they giving hugs? Give your child a squeeze when you read that part! Are they jumping or running? Bounce your child on your knees to mimic the movement. Don’t afraid to get dramatic with it, it will keep your child engaged!

3. Find Interactive Books!

This is a good one, especially for little kiddos. Find books with flaps or textures so your child can interact with the pictures on the page. Talk about what you might find behind the flap. “Who’s hiding back there? I think it’s a monkey. Let’s look!” or “What’s behind that door? Help me open!”

Books with textures help introduce describing words – soft, smooth, rough, bumpy, sticky, sparkly, etc. You can talk about the different textures you feel: “Ooh that baby chick is so soft! Let’s feel her fur together. So soft”

Search and find books are awesome options too, especially for older kids (I recommend ages 3+). These books are great for building vocabulary and following directions.

4. Ignore the Text

Don’t feel like you need to read the words just because they’re there! Feel free to make up your own story or focus on labeling the pictures when you’re reading to kids under three years old.

  • Wave and say hello to different characters or animals in the book

  • Make animal noises, vehicle noises, or any other kind of noises and point to the picture

  • Use short phrases, like “I see a ______” or “Here comes the _______”

You could say “Oooh LOOK! I see a bear! Grrrrr! Hi Bear!” or “Time for Pete to eat breakfast. He’s going to have pancakes. Mmmm yummy!”

5. Don’t worry too much about finding a book “on their reading level.”

Of course we want children to learn how to read and it’s a great idea to incorporate some “on level” books or even some “above level” books, but make sure you have a few “below level” books in your collection too. Kids will feel more confident to read these books independently and if we want to encourage an intrinsic appreciation for reading – this is a great way to do it! Sometimes, we want to just get lost in a book – that’s why I read a few “beach books” each summer! Kids want to do the same, and having a few “below level” books on hand is key!

If you're interested in learning more about how to support your child's language development, I would be happy to set up a parent coaching session. Please visit my website to schedule a time!

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