I adore children’s books. I love the simple, hilarious stories, the anthropomorphised animals, and the amazing illustrations. Reading books with young children is an absolute joy for me and as a Speech Pathologist it’s now a significant part of my job! When sharing books with our children, we’re creating opportunities for them to learn language. Books are particularly good for exposing children to new vocabulary, for helping them understand complex emotions and for showing them how to tell coherent stories. Here are some tips for sharing books with toddlers and preschoolers.
First, pick the right book! Find books that are interesting and that your child is interested in. You can let them choose the book. I usually offer a choice of two or three books as I find young children are overwhelmed by the choices when looking at a whole bookshelf. Also, some books are too long or aren’t appropriate for young children so I want to give them options that suit me as well! I might ask, “Would you like to read about ducks, or about a dog?” and allow them to decide. It’s okay to read the same book over and over again as the repetition is helpful for young people. Allow them to ‘read’ the story to you as they become familiar with it and get them to predict what will happen next.
I always read story books with toddlers, rather than books with pictures of objects and single words, like ‘A is for Apple, B is for Boot’. Although many children love these books, I often find it hard to use these simple books for conversations, which is the goal when reading.
Secondly, you don’t have to read all of the words! If your little one wants to look at a single page in a book for a few seconds and then find a different book to read or move on to another activity, that’s okay! My goal when reading with children is always to interact with them and have a conversation, not to finish the book or to ‘tell’ them a story. Get some tips on how to have a conversation while reading in our next blog!
Written by Bec Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology