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I’d written a blog sometime ago on the importance of reading to children (read There’s No App Better Than Your Lap - 5 Reasons Why You Should Read Aloud to Your Kids). The blog stresses on the benefits of developing reading habits in children early on, particularly the practice of reading aloud to and with them.
On demand from some readers, I’ll be sharing in this post a few tips on how to actually read aloud to your child (some people wanted to know the best way to read to kids of different ages). You can choose the category that your child fits in and apply these tips accordingly. Hope they help. So here I go.
Tips for Reading Aloud to Your Child
How to Read Out to Babies (Newborn - 1 year)
If you thought the kid’s too small to be involved in the practice, here’s a fun eye-opener - you can start reading out to your newborn in a simple and fun way and help them pick up speech and comprehension skills faster.
Here’s how you can go about with your newborn/toddler:
With a newborn, you can start with pointing out at everyday things that your baby sees around. Make sure you put a name to it and call it out slowly and loudly before the baby several times a day. A few examples to begin with - house, car, dog/cat (if you have a pet) and of course Mom and Dad!
As the child turns 8 months and older, you may slowly start introducing hardcover books, preferably containing pictures of the same objects/people that you’d been referring to all this while (it helps the child connect easily).
Along with reading, try talking more to your baby, back and forth, several times a day. Parent talk with the baby helps develop speech and comprehension skills in them much faster.
Think of small fun games that you can play with your baby as you both enjoy reading time - try enacting the various characters in the pictures to help establish faster connect, mimic sounds, or just share a giggle/laugh with the baby!
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child - Dr. Seuss.
How to Read Aloud to Toddlers (1 - 2 years)
Your baby’s fast growing and so is her understanding of things around her. Now is the best time to introduce simple but important concepts to her because her mind is like a sponge - ready to absorb all the knowledge that it soaks. And what better way to do this than reading? :)
Your toddler’s going to have lots of questions about the things you read out to her. That’s because everything’s new and interesting, perhaps even slightly weird to her. So she’s going to be shooting out lots of “what’s this” at you!
Tip: Try responding to your toddler’s questions with a smile - you don’t wanna put off that innocent mind to rest by shutting out queries.
Now that she understands most of the stuff either on her own or by asking you questions, encourage her to point out at the objects that she knows around her and even try naming them all. This serves as an excellent practice exercise for the child - letting you know how far they’ve understood from what you’ve been reading out to them from books.
Since your child’s motor skills are also fast developing at this stage, you can use this opportunity to develop further interest in them in books by asking them to turn the pages of the books as you read out. Make sure that they are hardcover books (to avoid page-tearing in the process). This would also keep the child gripped in the reading activity because they’d be looking forward to you finishing the page to quickly help you turn over to the next.
How to Read Aloud to Preschoolers (2 - 3 years)
Your child’s now ready to join a preschool and though they’d anyway be introduced to books at school, it’s always a better idea to encourage the practice at home too. This helps reinforce reading habit in kids; besides, you also get a chance to help them out with stuff they couldn’t understand at school.
Ask your child what they’ve been reading at school. Ask them questions about a specific book they’re learning from or anything else they like - a story book, picture book, or rhyme book. Ask them what they particularly like in that book - encourage them to talk about the pictures/particular rhyme. Also ask if they understand what the words of the rhyme mean. This way you’d be encouraging the comprehension skills of your child.
Ask the child to pick out any book of their choice - from the collection of books they already have at home. Do this on a daily/regular basis, preferably at nighttime. This would help sustain the child’s interest in reading.
Kids love prizes and incentives. Ask them to pick out their favorite book. Read it out to them. Ask them questions and be sure to reward with a small prize at the end. This would make the child come back for more the next time.
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How to Read Aloud to Kids Aged 3-4 Years
Your child’s fast growing now and is learning from multiple sources as well - the school, books at home, and of course, digital sources like TV, mobile phone, or laptop. However, try and keep the screen time to a minimum, as far as possible, because There’s No App Better Than Your Lap, right?
The idea here is to encourage the child to read more and it can be a bit challenging too at this stage because the child has ample exposure to screen space by now (compelled partly by online schooling during COVID times). Here’s how you can still succeed:
Pick up a picture book your child likes and try making up a story with the pictures. Enact the story to your child or you could even think of a creative game using the pictures to develop interest in your child.
Ask lots of questions to the child about the different characters in the story. Ask them if they understand what each character is and what role do they serve in the said story. Also ask if they’ve seen similar characters in real life (to establish mind connect between the fantasy world and the real world).
Encourage the child to try figure out the moral/takeaway from the story, rather than you spilling it out promptly. This would help you to know as well as polish the child’s understanding of the story/book.
How to Read Aloud to Kids Aged 4-5 Years
Your child’s speech and comprehension skills have developed well by now so now is the time to start polishing those skills.
Encourage the child to tell the story this time - choose one that you’ve been reading out to them for long so they can easily recall and narrate. This would help improve their narration and communication skills, also helping them express more.
You can also ask the child to join alphabets and try figuring out the sound of the words (through the phonetics method they’d be learning at school). When the child learns to write by the age of 5 years, ask them to write the main characters in the story or even draw them out. This also helps improve understanding and expression skills.
Ask the child what the story that you’ve been reading out to them or they’ve read on their own means. Do they understand the exact meaning of the story? What is their understanding of it and what’s their take on the story?
Have a discussion with the child on the story, its meaning and most importantly, its relevance in real everyday life.
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To Sum Up
Reading is fun. Reading out to your child is the first step towards introducing this fun activity to them for a lifetime. And the best news is that you can start reading aloud to your child as early as when they’re a baby! You can try different techniques detailed in the tips in this post as the baby grows older to effectively read aloud to your child and enjoy its numerous benefits. Happy reading!
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