5 Key Strategies When Reading a Book

  1. Use that pointer finger!! Point to specific objects on the pages to connect meaning between what your child is hearing and seeing
  2. Be funny! Add in fun sounds/words and gestures! If you’re having fun, your child will have fun. Practice your acting skills on them and whether your skills are good or bad (children don’t judge, right?)- your child will be captivated and therefore, learning!
  3. Follow your child’s eye gaze or finger point- this shows us what they are interested in and children learn best and most when they are attentive
  4. Less is more- don’t give into the peer pressure of ALL of the words on the pages; shorten the sentences, label specific items in the pictures
  5. Make it interactive- have your child follow directions for “open the book”, “turn the page”, “close the book”, etc.

Books are dynamic learning tools; you can use the same book to increase a variety of skills at different ages and stages of development. Not only is storytime a quality bonding opportunity for you and your little one, implementing these strategies enhance children’s receptive and expressive language, too!

If you’re feeling up for an extra challenge, you can try to decrease the cuddling at storytime (I know, I know, it sounds like quite possibly the most absurd request but please continue reading). As hard as it is to fathom book reading without cuddles, sitting face-to-face with your child allows them to watch your face while you produce certain words and sounds. This setup can also provide you, the reader, with more control of the book, since we know some children are rapid-page-flippers without attending to the pictures (great for fine motor skills!). Lastly, sitting face-to-face can increase joint attention, which is when your child shares an interest (the book) with you by looking back and forth from the book to you.

One more strategy to try, since I’m a speech-language pathologist and can’t turn off the wordiness or find my “off” button on providing strategies- create a verbal routine around story time. Verbal routines can be tailored to the desires of your heart- you can bring out your best karaoke voice and sing a song: “Read read read a book, read a book to me, reading reading is so fun, I love it when we read!” (sung to the tune of “Row row row your boat”), you can consistently say “open the book” and “bye book” with every reading session, whatever you want, just be consistent!

If you’re still reading, you get a reward! Yep, you guessed it, your reward is another strategy (my button is still turned to “on”). This strategy is simple and fun: fill in the blanks. If a story is repetitive, such as Brown Bear Brown Bear What do You See? or The Pout Pout Fish add in pauses and wait for your child to fill in the blank!

Have fun reading and please indulge in all the cuddles pre- and post- storytime!

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Ryan Landinguin

Ryan Landinguin, M.S. CCC-SLP is a certified speech language pathologist and CEO of RL Therapy Group, a multidisciplinary clinic in San Diego, California.

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