11 Ways to Encourage Reading in Your Preschooler
As a parent, you play an important role in developing your child’s interest in and ability to read. One of the greatest things you can do to encourage reading in your preschooler is to read yourself—read on your own, read to your child, and always have books around, just in case he wants to explore on his own.
The way you read to your child is just as important as the time you spend reading.
Reading aloud to preschoolers teaches them important lessons they must know in order to read independently later. For example, they learn that you read books from front to back and text from left to right. These are known as “emergent literacy skills” and provide a foundation for future reading, according to kidshealth.org.
The way you read to your child is just as important as the time you spend reading. The Stony Brook Reading and Language Project has developed what is called “dialogic reading”, and claims that children who experience dialogic reading are more advanced than children who are just read aloud to. Simply speaking, dialogic reading is children and adults having a conversation about a book, according to Grover J. Whitehurst, author of “Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers”. It’s a method that allows the child to become the “teller,” while the adult transitions to the “listener, questioner, and audience,” says Whitehurst.
Dialogic reading consists of various prompts:
- Completion prompts that allow the child to fill in a blank in a line or phrase that is familiar to them;
- Recall prompts, which are best for 4 to 5-year-olds, and involve asking the child to recall major events of the story;
- Open-ended prompts, which work very well with picture books, and allow the child to create their own story;
- “Wh” prompts (who, what, when, where, and why questions);
- Distancing prompts, which are again best for 4 to 5-year-olds, as these prompts involve asking your child to relate what you are reading to something she has experienced outside of the book
After a child answers a prompt, the parent or reader should expand the response by rephrasing it, and then ask the prompt again to make sure the child has learned from it, according to Whitehurst. Of course, it’s important to keep the experience fun and enjoyable. It should not be stressful to the child, and should always be mixed in with straight reading.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Repetition is important to a child’s literary development, so try not to roll your eyes or act bored when asked to re-read a book for the umpteenth time;
- As you introduce new books, make sure you take time to look at the cover, say the title and the author’s name, and discuss what your child thinks the book is going to be about;
- Your child may enjoy holding the book herself and turning the pages;
- Run your finger beneath the words as you say them so your child can make connections between the spoken word and written word;
- Let your child point to words or letters he recognizes;
- And finally, choose books your child is interested in, and that will further develop her skills.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to encourage reading in your preschooler. Remember that as you set aside that little bit of time to read aloud that you’re not only preparing him or her for independent reading and learning in school, you’re creating a bond, as well as special memories for both of you.