The way we read books to our children makes a difference in how they learn new words and develop early reading skills.
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There’s more than one way to read a book, and the way you read to your child has been found to significantly correlate with the benefits children receive from reading sessions.
Pointing to and labeling pictures seems to have the greatest overall benefit for children’s vocabulary and later print awareness, but taking the time to ask questions and describe the meaning of events is also beneficial when children’s initial skill levels are taken into account.
Listening to multiple readings of a storybook facilitates children’s comprehension and vocabulary, whereas answering questions during the multiple readings is more helpful in saying new words than in understanding new words. These findings suggest that, under certain conditions, techniques used by adults have differential effects on preschoolers’ receptive and expressive vocabulary.
Of course, one style doesn’t fit all children or parents. You might find these tips helpful:
- Choose books deliberately and carefully, notice book and print size, language and illustration quality
- Because siblings can’t be confined to certain stage-appropriate books, consider separate reading corners or alternate target age each reading session to ensure that each child periodically experiences suitable books.
- Vary reading style for age and stage. For example, the attention span and learning phase of children around 18 months favorably accommodates interruptions and questions. Three-year-olds, however, may develop better comprehension when the story is completed before answering questions or discussing.
- Point and verbally refer to text, from the earliest age. Studies prove that children take notice of and learn letters more easily as a result.
A note about the author:
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips? Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.