"Reading time"... how can it help my child talk?

"Reading time"... how can it help my child talk?

"It's time to read"... Parents often invite their children to read as a part of their bedtime routine, a part of their daily routine or just because the professionals said so. But how can parents help their children "stay still"? How will parents enjoy reading time with their children, instill the love of reading, and develop their young children's language abilities at the same time?
I will be sharing with you below a list of ideas and tips that will help you make reading time an enjoyable time for you and your young children by answering 3 main questions; What type of books to buy for my child? How to make my child love reading time? and how can reading help my child talk?

What type of books to buy for my child?

First, I invite you to designate a specific corner for your child's books. This can be a book case, a designated book shelf or any place that is accessible for your child.
Babies love being read to. They enjoy touching and feeling things, they love bright colors/pictures. They also enjoy pushing on buttons and hearing sounds and seeing flashing lights. Reading not only helps your child develop his cognitive, language, and motor skills, but also helps you bond with your child! Did you know that babies enjoy listening to their parents reading to them as early as 6 months of gestation. So, start reading to your baby NOW.
When your child gets older and starts to understand simple instructions and familiar words, you can add books with rhyme and rhythms to his library, books of real people in action, books with holes where he can insert his fingers in or books with flaps that he can flip and see what's hiding behind. Later on, you can add books with themes, books that tell simple stories and has simple repetitive sentences. As he grows, follow his interests and get him books that challenge his abilities and motivate him to read.
Don't forget to buy or borrow books in all the language that your child knows and is exposed to in his daily life.

How to make my child love reading time?

  • Invite your child to read at any time of the day. Be a model for your child and make sure he sees you reading.
  • When reading to your child, sit facing him. This will make it easier for you to see him and interact with him.
  • You can start reading yourself or you can invite him to start reading by just sitting and waiting for him to initiate. Remember not to do all the talking, just wait for him and then add a word, a sentence, or a gesture to what he is trying to say.
  • Use varied facial expressions and change your tone of voice according to the story events. This will liven up your narration/story reading.
  • Don't forget to engage him in the story reading by asking him to flip the pages, for example. This will help him stay focused and it will build his self-confidence too.
  • Don't get bored from reading the same book every day especially when your child asks you to do so. It is through repetition that the child learns, that he starts filling in the missing words, that he starts memorizing the sentences and later on reading the book by himself.

How can reading help my child talk? What can I do?

When your child starts to love his reading time, this will automatically reflect on his language skills. He will be motivated to make sounds, use gestures, words or build sentences to read or interact with you and/or with the characters of the story. Here are some tips that you can use to make the most out of this reading time:

  • Let him choose 2 to 3 books to read with you. When children choose their books they will feel more engaged.
  • Make sure not to do all the talking. Wait for your child to do something like looking at a picture or pointing to a character then comment on what he sees or where he points.
  • Imitate him when he tries to read, for example if he says "woo woo do" when he sees the picture of a dog, reply by imitating him first then say the correct sentence "woo woo do, yeah, the dog says woof woof". Imitate any sound, gestures, facial expressions or word. When you imitate him, you will be increasing the likelihood he will imitate you in return.
  • Ask questions but don't spend all your time asking him questions as if he's being tested "what's this color? how does the cow go? where is she going? what is that?..." sometimes, you'll loose his focus and he won't find interest in what he's doing. You can replace theses questions by some comments like "Mmm I love ice cream" or "this ice cream looks delicious" instead of asking "Do you like ice cream?".
  • When you want your child to understand a new word, try to repeat it in different context and make sure to highlight this word "look teddy bear is putting on his COOOAAAT". What I mean by highlighting it is stretching it, saying it slowly while also using your facial expressions and an exaggerated intonation so it is easier to be picked up by your child.
  • Don't forget to add some fun to this reading time by saying silly words, acting like the animals, pretending to be the astronaut...Let your imagination lead you!!