Written by Madeline Mitchell
“You can find magic wherever you look, sit back and relax, all you need is a book” – Dr Seuss
Time to switch off the TV, turn off the music and hide the ‘screens’. Dr Seuss said it best, “all we need is a book!”
Let’s get reading with our preschoolers!
We need to make time to read to our preschool children! Many kids may find it difficult to sit still for the duration of an entire book, but we need to persist and make reading a fun, exciting experience for our children so that we are developing a love of stories and creativity from a young age.
Not only is reading with your child a beautiful bonding experience for you to share together and an excellent way to calm busy minds and bodies before bed, reading to your child also has amazing educational benefits you probably haven’t even considered!
Reading to your preschooler is a critical part of their early literacy development. Through the simple act of sitting together, turning the pages and listening to you read, your child is developing a range of skills and early reading behaviors!
If you spend time reading books with your preschooler, you are modelling early reading strategies that your child will need to succeed in reading in Kindergarten. Simple observations such as the front of the book, the use of pictures and words, turning the page and reading from left to right! You are modelling correct reading practices that your child is observing and will try to imitate!
Picking quality picture books is also important in early literacy development! Choose books with lovely pictures that you can talk to your child about and get them making predictions about the stories and what might happen next.
Choose books with plots, settings, complications and interesting characters that can become discussion points! Read the book for enjoyment and entertainment, but also use it as a tool to talk to your child about themes and issues that may arise eg feeling scared, the first day of school nerves, friendships etc.
While you are reading to your child, they are following along – decoding pictures and possibly words, learning about basic structures of narratives, character development and real word settings!
Words that rhyme and language development is another key benefit of reading to your child. By listening to you read, your child is hearing fluency, expression and being exposed to a range of new vocabulary! Talk about new words and what they mean so that your child understands and can begin to use these new words in their conversations.
Read for enjoyment!
Read books multiple times and form rituals around books! Many children love reading before bed and visiting the library to borrow and read books. Many libraries even offer ‘storytime’ for preschoolers to explore books an engage with genres!
When you read to your child, the following tips are excellent early reading strategies that you can begin teaching your preschooler:
- Talk about the title of the book – ask your child ‘why do you think the story is called this?’
- Flick through the book and have a quick look at the pictures. Children are more attentive during a story if they know what is happening next. This is why kids love reading books multiple times
- Talk about the pictures – the use of colours, what is happening, how the characters might feel etc
- Read through the story and ask your child to make predictions about what might happen next
- Ask your child to retell what happened in the story, can they sequence the story?
- Talk about vocabulary and any new words
- Read with expression and fluency, pausing at full stops and capital letters
- If your child has memorised part of the book, encourage them to join in
- Discuss your favourite parts of the story and how certain characters might feel
- Read regularly!
Developing a love for reading at a young age is such a huge advantage for preschoolers. Your child will be exposed to books and expected to read from early weeks of Kindergarten. If your child already understands the use of books and has an interest in reading, they are going to find this transition to ‘big school’ much easier and more enjoyable.
Reading is a gift and books are a gateway to adventure, creativity and imagination. Get lost in the pages and magic of books with your preschool!