Having Children Become Engaged With Books

Being a reading teacher in early childhood I often take for granted the knowledge of early literacy skills that I posses. I wanted to share some tips for how I work with my boys at home so you can do the same!

The biggest tip I can give any parent on early literacy is to get your child involved with books. There are books all over my house, ask my husband he is about to lose it! When we are going somewhere special we find a book about it, when they are interested in specific topics we find books about it. We have our bookshelf in the playroom, they have a basket of books in their room, and we have a basket of books in the car. It is also important for them to see you with books! Children learn through example. If you are sitting and reading they will want to copy, just as if you are sitting on the iPad they will want to do the same. Let them see you read many different things for different reasons.

Let your child choose the books they look at. The point is for them to be engaged. My 2 year old will pick up a book and flip through it and maybe a minute later get another book and look at that one. Let them! They are learning literacy skills by holding books in their hands and engaging with them. This is really important for young kids. Ask them questions about the book they chose.

  • What made you choose this book? (this is a great question because it allows them to give reasons. Let them explain what about this book interested them, maybe it was the picture or the bright colors.)
  • What do you notice about the pictures? (Asking them what they notice is a start to comprehension. Pictures can give you a lot of information about a text and being able to analyze pictures helps!)
  • How do you think the characters feel? (This is one of my favorite questions to ask. This has them analyzing a characters mood and facial expressions. )

It is also huge to read to them, a lot! When you are reading to your child you are modeling literacy skills. You are teaching them how to handle a book, how to turn pages correctly, how you read from left to right. You may not think of these as important skills but they are important as emerging readers. I like to incorporate vocabulary into our read alouds together. I always says “title” “author” “illustrator”. If it is nonfiction I throw the words “picture” and “caption” around. You don’t have to question them on it but the more you say it the more they will internalize it.

Don’t hold back on using big vocabulary with me. They may not know the meaning the first few times but that is how they are going to learn and be exposed to it. Exposure is key and giving them the background will help develop them into great readers. Another strategy I use with my boys is to do picture walks. We may go through a book and just discuss the picture on each page. This is helping to give them the vocabulary needed to succeed.

Hope these quick easy tips help your reading at home with your littles!