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Simple Steps: Reading

Reading together with your child or shared reading is the single most important activity that you can do to help your child get ready to read. It develops vocabulary and comprehension, nurtures a love for reading, and ultimately motivates children to want to learn how to read. You can help your child develop this practice by:

For Babies

  • Read books to your baby.
  • Show your baby that reading is fun!
  • As you read, let your baby see you turn the pages; let them try.
  • Ask questions about the book; pause and answer the questions. This will help your baby learn that conversations consist of “taking turns.”
  • Give your baby board books and cloth books to play with.
  • Cuddle with your baby. Walk and point to words and signs that are around you.
  • Share books when your baby is alert. Stop when they lack interest, and try again later.
  • Keep books in places that are easily accessible to your baby (in a toy box, in the car, near the changing table).

For Toddlers

  • Read books to your child.
  • Show your child that reading is fun!
  • As you read, let your child turn the pages.
  • Point to words periodically as you read, so your child learns that you are reading text and not pictures.
  • Ask “what” questions when sharing a book: “What kind of animal is this?” or “What color is this?” Repeat what your toddler says. Confirm that the answer is correct by letting them know: “Yes, you’re right! That is a blue boat.”
  • When reading together, expand on what your child says: “Yes, you’re right! That is a blue boat.” Continue by asking: “What is the boat doing?” “Yes, it is floating in the water!”
  • Read together when your child is interested. Stop reading when your child shows a lack of interest. Reading three minutes ten times a day is just as effective as one 30 minute session.
  • Keep books in places that are easily accessible to your child (in a toy box, in the car, on a low shelf).
  • Point out signs and read them aloud when you’re out and about.
  • Take every opportunity to read print to your child.

For Preschoolers

  • Read books to your child.
  • Show your child that reading is fun!
  • As you read, let your child turn the pages.
  • Point to words periodically as you read, so your child learns that you are reading text and not pictures.
  • When reading with your child, ask open-ended questions: “What do you see?” “What do you think is going to happen next?” “What if…?” “How did that happen?” These questions do not have right or wrong answers, but let your child know that you are interested in what he or she thinks.
  • Read together when your child is interested. Stop reading when your child shows a lack of interest. Reading three minutes ten times a day is just as effective as one 30 minute session.
  • Keep books in places that are easily accessible to your child (in a toy box, in the car, on a low shelf).
  • Point out signs and read them aloud when you’re out and about.
  • Take every opportunity to read print to your child.
  • Let your child make a book of their own.
  • Find books on subjects that are interesting to your child (bugs, trains, princesses, etc.).

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