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How to Read to Young Children

Everyone agrees that it’s important to read to young children for about 20 minutes each day. Reading with children at a young age helps to build their vocabulary and sets them up for a bright educational future. Watch the video below to learn more about the importance of early literacy.

How can busy parents help their little ones get the most out of story time? Here are some tips that will help get your children started.

Reading With Babies

Books offer a great way to bond with your baby, while introducing the building blocks of language and reading. Keep books on hand wherever you go—in the diaper bag, car or stroller. And keep the following tips in mind:

  • Choose sturdy books made with different textures and materials.
  • Allow your baby to explore books—grabbing, holding and even chewing on them.
  • Point out pictures and name objects. (“Look at the butterfly.”) You might also cover the picture and play peek-a-boo. (“Where is the butterfly? Peek-a-boo butterfly!”)
  • Take time to ask questions and pause as you read. (“What does the cat say? The cat says: ‘Meow!’”)

For more ideas and Imagination Library book activities, please visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org/engage

Reading With Toddlers

Toddlers are naturally curious and eager to learn new words and ideas. They enjoy silly, nonsense words and rhymes, and acting out stories.

  • When you read together, cuddle up with your child on your lap. Remember to look at each other, as well as the book.
  • Let your child lead the way. It’s OK to skip pages or reread the same story again and again.
  • Ask your child to point out things in the pictures. (“Where is the balloon? Can you find the balloon?”)
  • Ask your child to name things in the pictures and talk about them. (Point to the train and ask, “What is this?” Then ask, “What sound does a train make?”)
  • Use pictures to teach new words. (“See the trumpet? A trumpet is a loud instrument that makes music.” Then pretend to play the trumpet.)
  • Ask questions about the story, and give your child the opportunity to answer. Leave room for imagination.
  • Act out parts of the story, and use your voice to make the story come to life.
  • Use the story to start a conversation. (“Look! The bears are baking cookies. Remember when we baked cookies?”)
  • Talk about books you’ve read, even when you’re not reading. (“That lady is wearing a hat just like the bear in the story we read.”)

For more ideas and Imagination Library book activities, please visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org/engage

Reading With Preschoolers

Preschool is an important time for sharing books. Reading together each day helps boost language and literacy skills. Plus, it’s a great way to spend time together as a family!

  • Continue to snuggle with your child during story time.
  • Let your child help select books, and look for books that might interest your preschooler. (For example, does he or she like cars or dinosaurs?)
  • Read with expression and enthusiasm, using different voices for different characters.
  • Point out rhythms and rhymes in stories. Give your preschooler the opportunity to repeat rhyming phrases.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about the story. (“I wonder what is going to happen next? What do you think?”)
  • Keep books in an area that your child can easily access, such as his own toddler-sized bookcase.
  • Read stories over and over again. Early readers not only enjoy repetition, it helps them understand basic concepts of storytelling.
  • Look for opportunities to teach by pointing out familiar shapes, colors, letters and numbers. (“There’s the letter ‘J.’ Your name starts with the letter ‘J,’ doesn’t it?”)
  • Children are eager to model their parents’ behaviors and routines. Set a good example as a reader—read every day at home, even if it’s just a magazine or the local newspaper.
  • Be sure your child has a library card, and make library visits a part of your regular routine. The local bookstore also is a great resource for family activities, such as story times and special events.
  • Make reading fun—a time that you both look forward to spending together.

For more ideas and Imagination Library book activities, please visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org/engage

*The Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped provides books and magazines in audio and braille formats for children who have a physical disability which makes it difficult for them to read standard print. Qualifying disabilities include: blindness, low vision, manual dexterity problems which prevent holding a book and/or turning pages and reading disabilities.

On the 3rd Friday of every month, the Tennessee Library for the Blind will be holding call in Storytime for young and young at heart patrons! To be a part of this program you need only call the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and sign up to receive the monthly Story Envelope. Included in this envelope are special craft items, the phone number to call in on, and a set of instructions for a family craft to help keep the story time magic going! On the day of, all you need to do is call in and a Storytime Leader will talk your child through the crafts and read a story to go along with the theme for that month. To sign up for the mailing list or to ask more questions, contact Erin Savage at (800)342-3308 or by emailing erin.savage@tn.gov