5 ways to make the most of story time with your child

Here's how to improve your child's language skills by reading aloud to them.

Reading aloud with kids
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Reading aloud is one of the easiest ways to build a bond with your child while building on a variety of developmental milestones. It has many benefits for children's language development and other emergent literacy skills. While reading to your child, their listening skills and attention spans start to increase. As they listen, they absorb new vocabulary words and pick up on pronunciations, word usage, proper grammar, and emotional literacy cues. Plus, reading aloud strengthens a child's imagination by bringing the story to life.

Here are some of the best strategies to engage your child and make the most out of reading aloud.


Start early

Reading to an infant helps to create a special bond. They enjoy hearing your voice, feeling your body, and having your attention. Reading a variety of nursery rhymes and other stories that have rhythm and rhyme, such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. or the Pete the Cat series by Eric Litwin and James Dean, will get your infant excited and foster a positive regimen around reading. You may even notice your infant smile and kick their feet with excitement. As your infant gets older, consider reading simple stories about routine events, such as eating, taking baths, or going to bed.

Show your child how a book works

Teach your child how a book works by sitting with them and showing them how to hold the book, turn the pages, and read from left to right. Point to the words as you read aloud. This increases letter and word identification. Show the children the cover of the book and identify the title and author. Also, describe to the children what they are seeing on the cover.

Make connections

As your child gets older, start to involve them with the storytelling. Before reading, show your child the book and ask them what they think the book will be about. Encourage them to use their imagination and share what they think. Stop in the middle of the book and ask them what they think will happen. Then, continue to read to see if they were correct. At the end of the book, ask your child questions such as, "Would you change the ending? What could a character have done differently?" A great tool for kids is Story Wands, which you can give your child while reading to help them start thinking about plot, characters, and other story elements.

As you read aloud, encourage your child to identify the pictures they see in the book and discuss the images. Ask them to explain what's taking place in the illustrations and identify facial expressions and character actions. Involving your child in telling and explaining the story in their own words will get their imagination flowing as they are thinking about the story and recalling details.

Bring the story to life

Another creative way to make the most of story time is to use hand or finger puppets. Allow your child to hold the puppets and encourage them to act out the story along with you. We know that children enjoy reading the same story repeatedly because they can quickly anticipate what next and be more involved in the reading experience. Encourage them to recite key phrases or complete a sentence you begin.

Connect reading books to reading in the world

Books have the power to benefit young children in many ways. Always seek to make reading fun and remember the hundreds of daily opportunities to recognize words. Reading storefront signs or food labels are a creative way to promote reading, and it will help your child grasp the significance of reading in the real world.

Few things are more rewarding for a child than to own a life-changing skill that opens doors to new adventures and experiences. The more adults read aloud to children, the more they benefit from it. So, grab your favorite story, snuggle with your child and start creating those forever readers.

Here are some products we recommend to make the most of story time:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Board books are a great tool to use for infants. They're durable and easy to use for infants and toddlers to hold and turn the pages.

$4.59

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

A great book series with repetitive lines and sequences.

$9.39

Oiuros Animal Finger Puppets

Animal finger puppets

Finger puppets are another way to bring a story to life for kids 3 years and older.

$14.99

Lakeshore Learning Story Wands

Story Wands

img.lakeshorelearning.com

Story wands are a great tool to use for older children 3 and up. They can be used to build your child's vocabulary and reading comprehension.

$29.99

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Mary Lauderdale is a certified Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS) with years of experience working one-on-one with families to help toddlers reach developmental milestones. As a Curriculum Specialist with The Learning Experience, she creates hands-on learning activities, educational materials, and social interactions for the preschool franchise's curriculum and specializes in ages 6 weeks to 3 years old.