How to Read to Kids

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

It's been proven: reading to babies improves their cognitive function. That means reading earlier than we once thought practical. Previous studies showed that reading to preschoolers helps them learn to read faster, and improves language skills as well. Now, new studies show that parents should be reading to the under three crowd, with some experts telling us that we should start reading to our kids before they are even born; some studies tell us that babies can pick up sounds and music in utero.

Reading to my kids from early infancy was a given

I've always shared my love of books with my 12 kids, starting to read to them quite early, though not in utero. I'd be afraid someone would see and pack me off to a loony bin. However, reading to my kids from early infancy was a given for me.

So, how does a mom (or a dad) read to a newborn?

Pick a short book

First things first: you want to pick a short book and keep the reading session to a few minutes. Try to use your voice to emphasize the rhythm of the words and rhymes. Adopt a different voice for each character.

With toddlers, you'll want to see if they can repeat the rhymes. Point to pictures and name what is shown. Talking about the illustrations with your child can help build vocabulary. Point to the words as you read them to help your child make the association between words and sounds.

Ask your child questions as you read to help build his cognitive skills. For example: What do you think is going to happen next?

You might also pause where your child might supply the next, obvious phrase. For instance, in the book "Ferdinand", there is a question: "If you were a bumblebee and a bull sat on you, what would you do?"

If you pause, your child might just say, "You would sting him."

Look for books on topics that interest your child. If your child eats, dreams, and sleeps trucks, buy books about trucks. Make reading a habit by reading at the same times everyday. You might read to him before a nap, after meals, or at bedtime.

Let your child choose the book you will read. If he picks a very long book, tell him in advance just how much of the book you have time to read in that session.

Children find repetition soothing

Repetition is boring for you, but a language building process for your child. Repeating the telling of the same book helps your child understand how stories are organized. Children find repetition soothing.

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