It’s been a long day at work and now the bedtime routine with your little one is finally here. You’ve done your treasured duty of reading a story and now your young child pleads, with eyes wide and longing, “Just one more book, pleeease?” It is my hope, that on some nights (after you may sigh inwardly) that you pick up another book.
Reading with children is a time to revisit classics from your childhood and share new favorites together. Rereading books, no many how many times, offers children the chance to understand patterns and rhythm as well as fluency with a comfortable book. Have you read one of these books so many times that your child has it memorized? Just think: they are quoting literature!
Research has proven time and time again that reading with your child has countless benefits including vocabulary development and even preparing your child to read on their own. Interestingly, a recent New York Times article says that reading to your child also improves behavior and promotes focus and attention. My favorite reason for reading to a child is the quality bonding experience it provides.
Young children between the ages of four to seven begin the exciting adventure of beginning to read. When your child brings a reader home, dedicate time to the text. Practicing reading is so much more than just recalling sight words and sounding out unfamiliar words. First, encourage your child to look through the book and talk about what they notice in each picture. Where are the characters? How does the character feel? How can you tell? Next have your child begin to read the story. If your child has trouble tracking the print, then suggest that they use their finger to follow along. Their voice should match the words as they point. When they come to a word they don’t know, just wait. As a mom I sometimes have to hold my breath and count to five because I’m ready to spew out a reading strategy suggestion. Then ask them to make the beginning sound, sound the word out or look at the picture if that will help them. After they have tried a few strategies, then you can say the word. At the end of the book, ask some questions about the text to see if they understood what they read. You can ask if the book reminded them of something they have done before or of another book they have read. Making connections to the story will give your child a clearer picture of the storyline as well as help them better understand a character’s actions. Once your child has read the book a few times, they may memorize parts or all of it, especially in early beginning readers. This builds confidence, fluency, and an ease at which your child can retell the story.
Regardless of your child’s independent reading level or age, reading to your child will always be an important way to support their educational and emotional needs. Sharing a book together at bedtime allows you both to unwind and enjoy some quality cuddle time together.