Reading with your child is a powerful way to build bonds of attachment and a strong foundation for literacy and learning. However, reading with children is not always easy, and sometimes it can feel challenging. Library staff understand! Children have active bodies and curiosities about the world outside the book, and we want to help make reading together a successful, special bonding experience for both child and caregiver.
In working with families and in our own families, we’ve identified tricks, tips, and ideas that can help create a positive reading experience for you and your young child. Remember, try out multiple things and maybe try out a tip multiple times, because each child is different and responds differently. Reach out to us for more ideas or suggestions for books to read!
Start Small & Background Reading
- It is okay to start small: short books and short reading times. Attention span develops with practice.
- It is okay if young ones get up and wander away; don’t force your child to sit and read with you if they’d rather go play. Rather, keep reading! They are still hearing the vocabulary, story, and are learning. This helps to keep the act of shared reading fun.
- Sometimes putting the book aside and just playing with your child is what they need in the moment. Try again later!
- Be aware of developmental needs of children.
- Black and white (high contrast) books are best for infants whose eyes are developing. Babies begin by seeing light and dark.
- Handling a book, even chewing on them, is a first step towards reading!
- Read just one page, or part of a book. You don’t have to read the full book! Take cues from your child.
- Make books available and accessible for children. Maybe keep a bin on the ground, in the car, in their room, etc.
- Be mindful of your child’s daily routines and what times in the day/the schedule might be best suited for reading.
Choice & Repetition
- Around age 3, kids come into their individuality and choice can be very important during this developmental phase. Allowing them to have and make a choice is empowering. Ask them to choose which book you’ll read.
- Your child may choose the same book over and over. This is great! Kids crave repetition and the comfort and safety of knowing the familiar and what will happen in the story.
- If repeated readings gets tiresome, try reading the story in a silly voice, singing the story, or pausing to see if your child will fill in the text.
Play “I Spy”
- Playing “I Spy” highlights the playful fun that can be shared reading!
- You don’t have to even read any of the words, just play “I Spy” using the pictures.
- You can play “I Spy” with shapes, colors, even letters.
- Choose books about things your child is interested in. The library has books about nearly everything! Library staff are available to help locate books for you and your child.
Using Your Own Words
- You don’t have to read the whole book, or every word. Lower the expectation to complete the book, and raise the expectation of connecting with your child and the story.
You Are the Key Ingredient
- You are your child’s first and best teacher, and the most important piece of the shared reading experience. Shared reading is a relationship building opportunity.
- Try enjoying a storytime together: watch a virtual storytime together