As speech pathologists, parents often ask us; “What can we do at home to help build our child’s language?” We like to suggest book reading! Book reading is a great way to expand your child’s vocabulary skills and increase his/her understanding of concepts, in a way that can be enjoyable for both you and your child.
Here are some tips to enhance your book reading experience.
Choosing a Book
1. Consider your child’s interests (e.g., animals, vehicles, superheroes)
A book doesn’t have to win an award to be considered “good.” It’s important to keep in mind that a good book is one that your child enjoys reading. What book reflects your child’s interests? If your child enjoys trains, “Freight Train” by Donald Crews is a great book to have on your shelf. Does your child enjoy the adventure of superheroes? If so, “Ten Rules of Being a Superhero” by Deb Pilutti is a must read!
2. Let your child pick the book
Allow your child to experience the pleasure of choosing books. Don’t worry if your child wants to read the same book more than once. You can always narrow down the book choices to two or three books and let your child pick from that selection.
3. Look for a book with clear pictures (i.e. pictures that are not distracting.)
This will help your child know what you are referring to when you label items or describe actions while you read. This will also help your child when it’s his/her turn to point, label and answer questions.
4. Choose a book that relates to a novel activity/experience (e.g., doctor, dentist, haircut, trying new foods.)
Books are a great way to prepare your child for an upcoming activity/experience. Books can also be used to recall the events after the activity/experience. Are you planning for an upcoming dentist appointment? “Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer)” is a great read to get your child ready for their upcoming appointment. Are you trying to introduce your child to new foods? “Eat Your Peas, Louise!” by Pegeen Snow may be a helpful way to emphasize eating healthy and trying new foods.
5. Consider your child’s language or educational goals/needs
It’s important to choose a book that focuses on a specific concept that your child is learning (e.g., spatial concepts, descriptive concepts). If your child is working on inferencing skills, the “I Spy” series by Edward Gibbs focuses on just that! If your child is learning about temporal concepts (i.e., months of the year), be sure to check out “Jump into January” by Stella Blackstone & Maria Carluccio to help your child learn more about the different months and seasons.
6. Look for wordless picture books.
Books where the pictures tell a story without needing to use the printed words. Wordless picture books can also help your child learn that clues to a story can be found in the pictures. Your child can “read” the book independently just by using the pictures, even if he/she is not yet a reader. Wordless picture books also allow you to read the story differently each time so that your child won’t get stuck on story or specific words. Our favorite wordless picture books are “A Boy, a Dog and a Frog” Series by Mercer Mayer and “Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie DePaola.
How to Read a Book?
- Make reading a relaxed, fun activity.
- Talk about the pictures. You do not have to read the book to tell a story.
- Read with expression. Alter your voice for characters and become animated during excited parts.
- Read the book once or twice without asking questions so your child can become familiar with the story. Then, ask your child questions relating to objects/actions on the page.
- Ask personal questions relating to objects/actions in the story.
- Predict what might happen next before you turn the page.
- At the end of the book, recall the events in the story.
We hope these tips are helpful and can make reading time with your child a positive experience. Please feel free to ask your child’s speech-language pathologist for additional tips and book recommendations. Enjoy your next book with your child!