By Karen Levine and Cori Cohen
AWAKEN THE ACTOR WITHIN: A boring reader makes a boring story! Don’t be afraid to act out stories and use as many funny voices, expressions and emotions as you can. Aside from having fun while bonding with your child, you will be amazed at how much this helps broaden your child’s vocabulary and use of language and emotion.
HOLD YOUR CHILD CLOSE: Reading is a great opportunity to cuddle with your child. If they are not yet sitting up, make sure your child is on your lap with their back against your chest. They will be able to turn the pages and have control over their experience. As they grow older, keep them close to you and enjoy looking at illustrations together.
ASK QUESTIONS: Once your child is able to speak, ask them questions about the book. Asking them to point to an object helps them to increase their vocabulary and facilitates language development and comprehension skills.
MAKE READING TIME A ROUTINE: Set aside a special time to read to your child everyday. Whether it is before bedtime or in the middle of the day, if reading becomes part of their routine, they will learn to get excited about it and look forward to reading time as they grow.
CONSIDER YOUR OWN READING HABITS: Monkey see, monkey do! If your child observes how much you read, and the joy you experience from books, they will model themselves after you and develop similar reading habits. This may also be a time to hide the clicker and minimize TV time.
MAKE SURE BOOKS ARE EASILY ACCESSIBLE: The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” also applies to your child’s books. Make sure they have access both visually and physically to their reading material. For smaller children, store books in accessible containers, such as a basket, bucket or even a shoebox.
ATTEND A STORY HOUR: It is important for a child to learn that a book can be shared and enjoyed with others in a group. In addition, the child learns about group participation and the various interpretations a book can suggest. This will lead to interest in book clubs and encourage them to voice their opinions.
*Karen Levine and Cori Cohen are owners of StoryTime By Design, Inc., an educational, musical and magical story hour program. For more info, visit storytimebydesign.com.