When I last visited Naptime Tales, we talked about the benefits of reading to our toddlers. Today we’ll look at exactly how we can get the maximum benefits from each story time. Some of these tactics we moms just naturally do already; a few others might spark some new ideas.
Level One: Intuitive Recommendations
- Keep age-appropriate books available within your little one’s reach.
- Make reading time a pleasurable experience.
- Limit distractions during reading time.
- Be sure your little one sees you and other family members enjoying reading books.
Level Two: Well-Researched Recommendations
Some great recommendations came out of two studies* that statistically analyzed numerous other studies to determine just which tactics parents can employ to see the greatest academic benefits in later years. Their findings suggest that we:
- Read with enthusiasm.
- Respond to children’s attempts to engage in looking at and playing with books.
- Read stories that include rhythms and
rhymes. (a Speech Pathologist’s favorite!)
- Follow children’s interests, reading children’s
favorite stories and rhymes over and over.
- Read only as long as your child can maintain attention.
- Ask open-ended
- Relate events and characters in the story to your child’s personal experiences. (You’ll hear this a lot when your child enters school. It will be called “relating text to self.”)
- Ask your child to make
predictions about the story.
Level Three: Dialogic Reading
A team from University of Stony Brook, New York, created an entire parent-child reading program that is well documented to provide significant language gains. Called “Dialogic Reading,” it encourages parents to prompt young children in these ways when reading together:
- Completion Prompts
Leave a blank at the end of a sentence to allow your child to finish the sentence. For example, “I think I’d be a glossy
cat. A little plump but not too ____,” letting your child say fat. Completion prompts provide children with information about the structure of language that is critical to later reading.
Best used in books with rhyme or repetitive phases.
- Recall Prompts
These are questions about what happened in a book a child has already read. For example, “Can you tell me what happened to the little blue engine in this story?” Recall prompts help children understand story plot and sequences of events.
- Open-Ended Prompts
These prompts focus on the pictures in books. For example, “Tell me what’s happening in this picture.” Open-ended prompts help children increase their expressive fluency and attend to detail.
Best for books that have rich, detailed illustrations.
Level Four: Mommy-Reader of the Year!
In addition to the prompts, Dialogic Reading teaches parents to further:
- Evaluate the child’s response.
- Expand the child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it.
- Repeat the prompt to make sure the child has learned from the expansion.
What does this look like? They explain:
The parent says, “What is this?” (the prompt) while pointing to the fire truck. The child says, “truck.” The parent follows with “That’s right (the evaluation). It’s a red fire truck (the expansion). Can you say fire truck?” (the repetition).
Got all that, Moms? Okay, let’s get out there and create some future readers!
Coming Soon: The End of the Series – A Favorite Book for Promoting Language in Toddlers
*Dunst, C.J.; Simkus, A.; Hamby, D.W. (2012). “Effects of
Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development.” CELLreviews 5(4), Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.
Dunst, C.; Williams, A.; Trivette, C.; Simkus, A.; Hamby, D. (2012).
“Relationships Between Inferential Book Reading Strategies and Young
Children’s Language and Literacy Competence.” CELLreviews 5(10), 1-10.