What is a good reading routine for young children?
Book reading is a powerful tool for enhancing language skills, increasing conversational turns, and expanding background knowledge. Here are some strategies to incorporate into your reading routines:
- Pre-read the book to find any unfamiliar words.
- Create child-friendly definitions for unfamiliar words.
- Find any difficult concepts and/or parts of the story that may need additional background knowledge before reading.
- Prepare questions to ask.
- On the first read, do not interrupt the flow of the story.
- Practice out-loud thinking to show how you use language to make inferences to problem-solve, reason, and discuss cause/effect.
- Read it again to further their understanding and provide more opportunities for thinking.
- Read it a third and final time, with your role being to support them as they retell and add to the story.
Pre-read the book; familiarize yourself with the book beforehand to identify any unfamiliar words. Create child-friendly definitions by developing simplified definitions for unfamiliar words to facilitate comprehension. Address difficult concepts by identifying challenging concepts or parts of the story that may require additional background knowledge. Prepare to provide explanations or context before reading. Prepare questions and have them ready to ask during or after the reading to promote engagement and comprehension. During the initial reading, avoid interrupting the flow of the story. Allow the narrative to unfold without interruptions. Use out-loud thinking - for example, during the second reading, demonstrate how language is used to make inferences, problem-solve, reason, and discuss cause and effect. Share your thoughts and questions aloud to model cognitive processes. Read the book for a third time to deepen understanding and provide additional opportunities for thinking and reflection. During the final reading, encourage the child to retell the story, adding their own perspectives and details. This supports the development of narrative skills.
It's important to note that when selecting a book, aim for those with a manageable number of unfamiliar words, ideally between two to five words at a time. This ensures that the child can grasp the content without feeling overwhelmed. Create child-friendly definitions, practice word repetition, and prepare your questions in advance.
Again - during the first read, let the story unfold naturally without interruptions. In the second reading, model your thinking process, posing questions and making inferences. Finally, during the third reading, encourage the child to retell the story, fostering their narrative skills. By implementing these strategies within your reading routine, you can maximize the benefits of book reading and support the child's language development, narrative skills, and comprehension abilities.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course The Impact of Tech on Development and Academic Readiness, presented by Angie Neal, MS, CCC-SLP.