Tip #1: Be Engaging
Showing enthusiasm for reading will rub off on your child! Make your voice interesting by using loud and soft, high and low variations to help your child cue in to important or new words. Make different voices for the different characters to keep your child engaged and interested in this fun activity! By showing emotion in your face and voice, you are teaching your child about emotions and what they look and sound like.
Tip #2: Introduce new vocabulary
It is well documented that vocabulary knowledge predicts academic success and interactive shared book reading has been shown to have positive effects on young children’s vocabulary development. Books contain visuals, context clues and multiple repetitions as a way of introducing new vocabulary and reinforcing language development.
Tip #3: Follow your child’s lead
Reading each word in a book, from cover to cover is beneficial as your child will learn story structure and be exposed to new vocabulary repeatedly. But it is not necessary every time and can be particularly difficult for busy toddlers to sit and listen. Try to position yourself facing your child so you can see their face and see what they are looking at. Comment on what they are looking at, talk about the size, colour or shape or how the object moves (e.g., Toddler looking at a bird – point to the bird, “A bird! It’s a yellow bird. The bird’s sitting in the tree”. By noticing what your child is interested in you can include their interests in your interactions and provide models to help support their language development.
Tip #4: Use comments
Try to make more comments and ask few questions. If your child only hears What’s this? Who’s that? What are they doing? they are not hearing any names, action words or descriptors. Making comments provides language models for your child and gives them the words to answer questions. For example, instead of asking “What’s that”, you might say, “I see a bird!”. It can be tricky to get used to at first, but making comments can lead to your child saying much more!
Tip #5: Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Children learn language by hearing things over and over again. Reading the same book over and over will help your child become more comfortable and familiar with the pictures and words (vocabulary) and make it easier for them to participate. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself or re-read the same book for the 100th time. Repetition of words is what they need. Make reading fun by being lively and animated. Remember that it’s all right to abandon the plan and forget the words. Follow your child’s lead and your child will discover the joy of reading with you.