Reading Aloud With Your Preschooler
One of the best ways to encourage emerging literacy is to read aloud with your child as often as possible.
Read-aloud sessions involve much more than saying words and turning pages. When you express your own excitement about the pictures, story, setting, and characters, your child will be excited, too. With your guidance, the child can learn to take meaning from the words and expand his or her understanding and enjoyment of the story.
Looking for the details in the pictures, talking about what might happen next, and discussing how the story relates to your child’s real-life experiences are important parts of read-aloud sessions.
The following six-point checklist summarizes the key strategies used to read aloud to young children.
1. Choose a book
Look for a book that:
- You will enjoy reading
- Supports and builds on your child’s interests and experiences
- Has beautiful pictures
- Is slightly above your child’s current vocabulary level
- Introduces a new style such as poetry or a folk tale
- Invites your child to choose books she would like to read
- Repeats other familiar, well-loved books
2. Get to know the book
- Examine the illustrations so you can point out the information and clues in the pictures
- Read the story to yourself
- Plan ways to vary your voice (tone, volume, pauses) to fit the plot and characters
- Collect dress-up clothes, puppets, or other props related to the story
3. Set the stage for success
- Help your child get ready to listen.
- Make sure your child is comfortable and can see the book.
- Make sure you are comfortable.
4. Before starting the story
- Introduce the author and/or illustrator
- Talk about other books you’ve read by the same author and/or illustrator
- Show the cover and point out details in the illustration
- Read the title aloud
- Talk about what type of book it is – true, make-believe, folk tale, realistic
- Describe where and when the story takes place
- Introduce the setting and the main characters
- Suggest things to look and listen for in the story
- Show a few pages and ask: What do you think will happen in this book?
5. While reading the story
- Vary your voice to fit the characters and the plot
- Stop frequently to add information that will help the child understand what’s happening
- Rephrase something that might be confusing
- Explain the meaning of a new word
- Invite the child to predict what might happen next
- Ask your child about the story and characters
- Show the pictures and describe what’s happening
- Share your own reactions to the story and characters
- Use the props to enhance your child’s enjoyment of the story.
- Encourage participation by inviting your child to join in with rhymes and repeated words and phrases
- Make different sounds, as in “Peter, would you like to be the cow?”
- Add the last word to a familiar part of the text
- Move your finger under words as you read
6. After reading the story
- Ask questions to help your child: Recall what happened in the story
- Relate the story to personal experiences (e.g., “Did you ever?”)
- Put your child into the story – (e.g., “What would you have done?”)
- Express ideas, opinions, and creativity
- Do a book-related activity so your child can act out the story (with or without props)
- Make up a sequel to the story which you can write on a large piece of paper
- Draw pictures that show the events in the story then use them to retell the story
- Learn about the author and/or illustrator and talk about his or her life
- Look at his or her other books
- Draw a picture of the characters in these books
- Encourage the child to look at the book at home or in the classroom. Read the book again and again if the child is interested.