Tips for reading with a child

How you read is just as important as what you read.

  • Speak slowly and clearly—this helps children hear the little sounds in words
  • Repeat yourself—repetition of key words is important for learning
  • Use short, simple sentences
  • Look at your child while you are talking—children need to see mouths make words so they know how words form
  • Talking with children develops comprehension skills
  • Respond to baby babbles, as if you were having a conversation, so they learn how a conversation works
  • Answer questions your child has—curiosity shows children are engaged with a topic and ready to learn
  • Speak with, not at your child—children learn way more when they are actively involved
  • Be silly—make up your own songs and rhymes
  • Be patient when your child is talking—they need more time to organize their thoughts and have less practice coordinating the parts of the brain

Reading is more than just words on a page.

Dialogic reading is having a conversation about what you are reading while you are reading. Children learn best when they are involved, so including them in sharing a book allows them to become the storyteller!

  • Avoid questions with yes or no answers.
  • Ask questions about the story—who, what, where, why, when , how:
  • “What sound does a dog make?” “What is she wearing?” “What colour is the house?”
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation allow the child to give descriptions of what they see:
  • “What do you think will happen next?” “How do you think the monkey feels?” “”What do you think would happen if…?”
  • Relate questions back to your child’s life:
  • “Yes—that’s a cat. What is the name of grandma’s cat?”
  • Expand on their answers to help introduce new words to your child’s vocabulary
  • “Yes! That’s a bear—a big, brown bear.”
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