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If you’re reading to a young child, it’s best to make the reading experience positive. Children will learn when they’re having fun. If children are engaged and enjoying themselves, they are learning. Positive interactions with books help children develop positive feelings about reading, which will motivate them to continue seeking out books and other literacy materials as they grow.
Here are some ideas for developing early literacy skills in your infant or toddler:
Many books have a large, colorful, eye-catching illustration on the cover. Remind your toddler that the cover is essential by asking, “Do you know what this is? What do you think is on the cover?”
Your toddler will likely be more interested in the cover page than the contents. Even though the content will offer far more information, the bright colors and appealing illustrations are too much for your toddler to resist. Use this to your advantage in getting them to want to engage with books.
Point to the pictures in the book, and ask your toddler, “What do you see?” This will encourage your toddler to identify items in their environment, giving them a chance to engage in conversation. If a word or picture is unfamiliar to your toddler, it might be helpful to identify the word by saying, “This is a dog. Dogs are sometimes called doggies. Can you find the doggie?”
This will help your child feel more involved in the reading process, which will make it more inviting. You could say, “Would you like to choose which book we read first? Which one do you want to read?” Allow your toddler to help you make the decision.
Talk about the pictures in the book as you read. Point out the people, animals and objects in the illustrations or images, and identify them by saying, “That is a bird. Can you see the bird? What do you think the bird is doing?”
Another way to engage your toddler in the reading process is to sing the words to the book. Singing helps children recognize the vital rhythm in language, which involves stress and syllable patterns. Singing helps them to understand the patterns of language.
After you’ve asked your child to look at the pages, say, “Is it time to turn the page? I’ll help you turn the page if you like.” Of course, your toddler will want to do it themself, so let them. This will give them an opportunity for self-expression. As they turn the page, comment on what they see, like, “Wow, what a great picture of the doggie. Good job of turning the page!”
Try to read to your toddler every day. Even if you only read for a few minutes, it is essential to make reading a routine activity. By reading to your toddler every day, you are showing your child that reading is an enjoyable experience. Don’t worry about providing a lot of time for reading – even a few minutes of reading will benefit your toddler’s early language and literacy development.
This guide has presented some helpful ideas for getting your toddler interested in books. Making book reading a positive experience and setting it up as a routine will help your toddler develop a positive attitude toward reading, which will support their later language skills and love of reading.
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