Improve your child’s thinking skills through reading

Many preschool age children love to be read to by their favorite adult and will often ask for the same book to be read to them over and over. Wouldn’t you know itour kids know exactly what is good for them! Picture book reading provides children with many of the skills that are necessary for school readiness, such as vocabulary, structure of language and sustained attention.

It is important for adults to read frequently with their preschoolers. Research tells us that children who are read to three or more times per week do much better in later development than children who are read to less often. How children are read to is just as important as how frequently they are read to. Usually when adults share a book with a preschooler, they read and the child listens.

However, parents, caregivers and teachers are now being encouraged to use dialogic reading with toddlers and preschool children. Dialogic reading is just children and adults having a conversation about a book. The adult helps the child become the teller of the story, while the adult becomes the listener, the questioner, and the audience for the child. Research shows that children learn most from books when they are actively involved.

It’s easy to practice dialogic reading, especially with a favorite book. The first time through, the adult just reads the book to the child, following the child’s lead and interest. During subsequent readings, stop every couple of pages and follow these easy steps:

1. Prompt the child with a question about what was just read. Ask, “What’s happening?” or “What are the pictures about?”

2. Listen to and respond to what the child says. Try adding another detail or new vocabulary word.

3. Ask the child the question again to give him/her a chance to use the new detail or word.

Keep on reading for a few more pages. Each time you read the book together, use different prompts and let the child tell more of the story. Remember, as you read, keep it fun and light. Don’t push children with more prompts than they can handle happily. Your children will love it.

Deb Molitor is an Early Childhood Consultant and Early Childhood Special Education Discipline Representative for AEA 267. AEA 267 serves over 60,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.