How to Read to Young Children

How to Read to Young Children

One of the best ways to develop your child’s literacy skills is to begin reading to him at birth… and earlier! Even though your child might not understand the words, their developing brain begins processing language before they are even born. Studies show that babies can learn their first lullabies in the womb.

But once your child is born, it is important for you to read regularly to her to help build her vocabulary and teach her the basics of language such as sentence structure, grammar, and more. It doesn’t matter what language you read to your baby in because once they learn the basic literacy skills in one language, they can transfer those to a second one.

The way you read to your child can enhance his learning and boost his literacy skills. Here are five thing you can do to maximize your reading time together.

Sit together in a comfortable spot.

If it is possible to create a special reading area in your home, do it! But remember, reading can take place any time and anywhere. Try to choose somewhere comfortable for both of you like the couch or a cozy chair. This lessens outside distractions and makes it easier for you both to focus on the story and the act of reading.

Read with emotion.

A great storyteller captures the mood of the story with his voice, so be animated as you read. Use different voices for different characters. Let your voice rise and fall as the story moves through exciting moments. Pause now and then to increase the suspense and make your child wonder what will happen next.

Point to the words.

Help your child learn to associate sounds with specific letters or groups of letters. By the time he starts reading, he will already recognize common words such as “the,” “an,” “he,” “she,” and many others. Pointing to words as you read will also show your child basic grammar rules, such as using a capital at the beginning of a sentence and ending it with a punctuation mark.

Look at the illustrations.

Most children’s books come with beautifull illustrations. The job of the illustrator is to accentuate the story and supplement it with additional details that the author may not include. The images may even help the reader to guess what is going to happen next. Before you turn the page, look at the illustrations together and point out details that may not have been included in the written story.

Ask questions.

Start off by looking at the cover of the book and ask your child what she thinks the story will be about. As you read, ask her questions about the characters, how she thinks they must feel, and what she thinks is going to happen next. By asking questions, you make your child an active reader and not just an observer. You’ll also be boosting her reading comprehensions skills.

Happy reading!

Using Story Boards to Boost Your Child’s Reading Comprehension {PRINTABLE}

Learning to read involves many different skills: letter recognition, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. It’s not just about making words out of letters or sentences out of words.

Reading comprehension plays a major role in your child’s literacy. Being able to read words is of no use if you don’t understand what they mean or how they relate to each other in a sentence. Reading comprehension is a skill that is developed over time and has to be taught to children in addition to basic decoding skills.

This is why I love activities that help children to think about what they’ve read and the meaning of the story. One of my favorite tools is the story board. It is quite simply a visual template that your child can fill with words or drawings related to the book he or she has read.

They are extremely versatile. In the example above, we used the book ¡Olé! Flamenco by George Ancona. In the center circle is the title of the book, and the surrounding spaces are filled with the elements most closely associated with the traditional Spanish dance.

Typically the center space is reserved for the main subject of your story board. Your child can write in the title of a book, the main character, or something else. Consider these potential topics:

– Character traits of the hero
– Character traits of the villain!
– Different settings found in the story
– Sequential events (i.e., in the Three Little Pigs, FIRST the pigs left to build their own houses. SECOND the first little pig built a house of straw, THIRD the middle pig built a house of sticks, etc.)
– Comparing and contrasting; take two characters and on the left side of the page, show what they have in common, but on the right side of the page, show what is different about them.

The absolute best part of using story boards is that you can use them in any language! Or more than one; we used both Spanish and English in the story board above. You can also make them as simple (with fewer lines for younger children) or as complex (more lines for older kids) as you want.

The neatest part is that the story boards can be used for multiple subjects including science, history, geography, and others.

Story boards are easy to create yourself, but I made a set of them which I sell in my online TpT store. HOWEVER, I’m happy to offer them for free this summer in honor of the Latino Children’s Summer Reading Program. Hop on over there and download your complimentary set. And if you use any of them with your kids, why not snap a picture and post it on our Facebook page to inspire the other participating familias?

Happy reading!