According to the U.S. Department of Education, reading aloud is the single most important activity for building the knowledge your child needs for everyday success. It is never too early, or too late, to start reading to your child. Even infants enjoy listening to simple stories and looking at pictures.
- Start early. Research has shown that children benefit all through life from an early love of reading. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin reading to children daily at the age of 6 months. Babies enjoy hearing their parents' voices even if they do not understand a story. Begin with wipe-clean board books that have just a few words per page.
- Read with your child every day. Reading aloud can be a relaxing and enjoyable way to calm a child before bedtime, but look for other opportunities to read aloud, too. You can read aloud at bath time, on the bus or in the supermarket checkout line.
- Take your time when you read aloud. Read slowly, so your child has time to understand the story and enjoy the pictures. One way to make sure you are reading at a comfortable pace for your child is to encourage him or her to turn the pages when ready to move on.
- Get your child involved in the story. Ask questions about what you are reading, and encourage your child to ask questions, too. "Why is the dog running?" "Where do you think it is going?" If a book has repeated words, invite your child to join in each time you read the repeated words aloud. If characters in the book do entertaining things, such as making a funny face, you can enjoy imitating the expression with your child.
- Let your child practice "reading" you the story from the pictures. Children love to feel they are "reading" while looking at the pictures of a familiar book and telling the story in their own words. Do not be concerned if your child changes the story; it just means your child is using his or her imagination.
- Remember that children, especially very young children, enjoy repetition. It is fine if your child wants to hear the same book again and again. Children take comfort in what is familiar, and learn and notice new things with every reading. You can also point out words that occur frequently, and your child may begin to recognize them as you read. They also like rhymes they can remember.
- Read different kinds of books to your child. Try fiction and nonfiction, books with and without words, and poems that do and do not rhyme. Young children enjoy learning short verses and completing rhymes that you read aloud.
Don't forget to check out the children's library resources available on the MWR Digital Library!