Read and Discuss Stories to Build Your Child’s Knowledge, Reasoning, and Early Literacy Skills

Reading aloud with your little one is one of the most important things you can do with your child.  It sets them up for success at school and helps build a lifelong love of learning.  It’s never too early to start “reading” to your child, even if that means showing your infant colorful books and talking about the pictures.  Reading and looking at books together is also a special time to snuggle up and connect, and creates bonds and positive memories for parents and children. 

Encourage their love of reading by making it a fun experience for your child. Joking and laughing about the pictures or stories and showing your own interest in the story or in your child’s comments are all ways to help your child develop good feelings around books and learning.  It’s ok to be silly! Read with expression, use funny voices, or act out parts of the story.  Give your toddler a chance to do the same.  Toddlers love to have the same book read to them over and over and over again.  Although it can be boring for the adult reading, repetition is key to children’s learning. Know that as you reread that book, your child is gaining confidence, mastering the book, and enjoying it!.  Have fun with this by letting them finish sentences or rhymes or by making funny mistakes and letting them correct you!  By encouraging your child to love books and reading, you are cultivating a love for reading that they can continue to fuel as they get older.  

Engaging with Your Child While Reading

When you and your child talk about what is happening in the story or even when you just point and talk about the pictures, they are developing important language and thinking skills. They learn new words as you read them and as you name the things you point to.  Responding to your child’s comments and questions lets them know you are listening and value their thoughts.  Ask questions that encourage your child to think, and listen and react to your child’s comments. By discussing the story and pictures, your child develops a better understanding of what is happening in the book.  Asking questions while reading encourages children to discuss their ideas – it doesn’t matter if their ideas are “right” – the important thing is that they are able to express their ideas and that they see you value their thoughts.  Your child may even change their ideas as they gain new information and the story unfolds.  Some thought provoking questions that toddlers can begin to answer include:

  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What do you think they should do?
  • How do you think that character feels?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • Have you ever tried that? Been there? Felt like that?
  • Has that happened to you?
  • Look at the cover and some of the inside pages and ask- “What do you think this story will be about?”

Reading with Your Baby

Reading together can spark your child’s imagination, curiosity and problem solving.  Babies love to touch and feel. Simple books like the lift-the-flap books, Spot the Dog by Eric Hill, are fun for your baby and encourage their curiosity. Try a touch and feel book like No Prob llama by Make Believe Ideas Ltd to help them explore new textures and promote their curiosity. For fostering imagination and problem solving, try ZOG by Julia Donaldson and have fun going to “school” with a dragon!  Even your imagination will be sparked by this delightful story.   

Reading and discussing books of all kinds is a wonderful adventure you and your child can go on together. Building reading aloud into your child’s routine can become a calm bonding time that will also help them learn and grow! You don’t need to buy a lot of books to read to your child – libraries are a wonderful resource, even during Covid.   

Visiting the Local Libraries

The Alexandria Library has many resources to make reading to your child easy and fun!  They provide lists of suggested books to read to Babies & Toddlers and  Preschoolers.  If it is difficult for you to get to the library to check out books, you can access many of the books virtually through the Library’s webpage, and even attend virtual story times.  The Library offers many different options for virtual story times, including ones that are geared towards babies and toddlers and even fun pajama themed story times to help you finish your day with a story!To learn more about why reading with your child is so important, we invite you to visit our webpage on The Basics, five fun, simple, and powerful ways to help all children aged 0-3 grow up to be happy and smart. You can also find tips for reading to babies and toddlers, and look through a list of books chosen specifically for The Basics!

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