By Kelly Carcione
“There is one prekindergarten skill that matters above all others, because it is the prime predictor of success or failure: the child’s vocabulary upon entering school.”
-Jim Trelease, The Read Aloud Handbook
Even though they are not reading on their own, before kindergarten is the time to instill a love for reading and learning in our children. How? By reading aloud to them often and for as long as they will listen.
Reading to your child:
• builds vocabulary as well as the foundation for phonetics and grammar
• improves attention span and listening skills
• builds empathy and emotional development (as a child relates to a story)
• fosters imagination and improves the ability to express feelings and ideas
• introduces background knowledge on new subjects, which strengthens comprehension
• sharpens critical thinking skills
Spend some time finding books that are targeted to your child’s developmental level and interests. The local librarian can point you in the right direction. Here are some other resources to help you find just the right book:
The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease, changed the way I approach reading with my kids. Now in it’s sixth edition, the book is filled with compelling arguments and research supporting the effectiveness of reading aloud, and includes a lengthy book guide to get you started.
Diane Frankenstein’s book, Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know To Raise a Child Who Loves to Read, offers synopses and discussion ideas for books starting at the Pre-K level.
Esme Raji Codell’s book, How To Get Your Child To Love Reading, is an amazing resource for finding books tailored to your child’s specific interests.
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, by Mem Fox emphasizes expressive reading.
www.readkiddoread.com This Web site, created by author James Patterson, offers reviews of books for children age birth and up.
In my household, bedtime was our most intensive book time. Now we are making time for reading and stories throughout the day.
Here are some tips:
1. The morning news story: Pick up a local paper and share something, be it the weather for the day or community news.
2. Keep books everywhere you spend time; set up a breakfast story time or have impromptu readings throughout the day.
3. Act out favorite stories or songs. Tell Me a Story cards by eeBoo are a fun way to get your child to narrate a new story.
4. Make a simple book. Write down a story as your child tells it. This also models handwriting skills and the concept of reading left to right.
5. Read street signs on walks or flyers around town.
6. Make a special trip to the bookstore or library to choose a new book to share, or attend Story Time events.
7. Refer to books when looking for information. Find a recipe in a cookbook or look up a word or picture in the dictionary.
Kelly Carcione lives in Burlingame and can frequently be seen pounding the pavement with her two preschoolers in tow. A former financial analyst and small-business owner, she serves as Newsletter Editor on the Executive Board of the United Methodist Church Cooperative Nursery School. She has a keen interest in early childhood education and is a strong supporter of the play- based curriculum.