*Be sure to check out our “Storytime with The Warren Center” video series at the end of this article.*
Reading to Preschoolers
At this stage of development, most preschoolers will be able to:
- Hold a book correctly and turn the pages sequentially
- Understand that print is read from left to right, top to bottom
- Recognize print in the environment
- Know the names of their favorite books
- Recall familiar words and phrases in favorite books
- Imitate the action of reading a book aloud
- Recognize and write a few letters, numbers and words
- Understand the relationship between letters and their sounds
- Makeup rhymes or silly phrases
- Predict what may happen next in a story
- Retell stories that they know
It is important to keep in mind that children develop their learning and reading skills at different paces. If you are having concerns about your child’s language development or comprehension, please talk to your child’s pediatrician for an appropriate evaluation.
There are many things that you can do now with your child to help them develop language and literacy skills and to foster their love of reading.
Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when reading with your preschooler to build their reading skills and to ensure positive reading experiences and opportunities:
- Let Your Child Choose Their Own Book: Children love to feel involved so an easy way to engage them with reading is by visiting a bookstore or local library and letting your child choose an age-appropriate book that he or she likes. If your child loves playing with toy cars, choose fun books about cars. Remember, you want to teach your child that reading is fun!
- Build Your Own Library at Home: The more books you have at home, the more opportunities you will provide your child to read. Thrift stores, yard sales, and clearance racks at the bookstores are great and inexpensive ways to build your library at home. Make sure the books are accessible to your child and are in easy to reach locations, such as in low shelves or in large bins or baskets on the floor.
- Make It Interactive: Get your child’s attention and make reading more fun by bringing the stories to life. Try using different voices when different characters are speaking and dramatize sound effects, such as loud ‘booms!’ or animal noises and encourage your preschooler to try to repeat the sounds too. Children love to hear a variety of volumes, tones, and accents- so ham it up!
- Ask Questions While Reading: Reading to your child is great, but what is even better is getting your child involved. Before turning the page, ask them what they think will happen next. You can also ask your child to come up with an alternate ending to a book. Getting your child to think more critically about a book, beyond what they have just read or seen on the page, is a great skill that will help them with comprehension down the line.
- Read Books with Repeated Lines or Phrases: Repetition helps your child remember what comes next and lets them take an active role when reading aloud. Pause to let your child fill in some of the blanks when reading to help them start to become more familiar with a story. When children are able to recite parts of a book from memory, it builds their confidence and makes them feel great about reading.
- Read Often and Set up the Environment for Success: Set aside a regular time to read with your child every day, such as at night time before going to bed. Turn off the TV, reduce distractions, and find a quiet place to read so that your child can hear your voice. Aim to read with your child at least once a day but do not be discouraged if you skip a day or do not always keep to your schedule.
- Know Your Child’s Limits: It is important to pay attention to the cues that your child is giving you during reading time. If they are beginning to get tired or cranky or having trouble paying attention, take a break and try again later. Some kids can get uncomfortable sitting still in one place, so allow them to keep their hands busy while reading by playing with fidget toys or take a movement break to get their wiggles out!
- Connect Reading Print to Real Life: From signs on the roads and grocery stores to the labels on foods and clothing, there are new words to discover every day by your preschooler. Ask your child if they recognize any letters or words when active or play games involving letter and number recognition- keep it interactive! Have you recently read a book about animals? Take a trip to the zoo and help them connect what they read to a real place. Make sure to explain to your child the meanings of any new words they may encounter throughout their day to boost their vocabulary.
written by Seena Thomas, Occupational Therapist – The Warren Center
Storytime with The Warren Center
Welcome to our Storytime with The Warren Center video series. In this series, parents will discover ways to interact effectively with their children during storytime, plus you’ll find stories you can play for your children read by the therapists at The Warren Center.