To make reading fun (for both you and the children), you want to talk the book, not just read it. This makes reading interactive (and more engaging).
Here are some tips on how to make your reading really count:
I know, you’re all busy, but take a five-minute study (or facebook) break and read a fun children’s book! This will help you spot pages you want to shorten, take out, or ask questions about.
Choose appropriate books
For toddlers (2-3 years):
- Pick books with simple plot lines and only a few sentences per page.
- Pick books that help them cope with feelings (characters handling emotions), follow their curiosity (exploring new places), or reinforce their learning (picture-concept books).
- Pick books they can participate in! They feel competent if they have rhymes or predictable words they can remember.
For preschoolers (4-5 years):
- Pick books with more important and expanded plots. *Start building up on books! Read *longer* picture books and chapter books read over several sessions (make sure to review last weeks material at the start of each session if you do this).
- Pick books that back up their experiences (young children having similar experiences), follow their curiosity (new information books), and entice their imagination (fairy tales).
- Pick books they could retell, that are predictable (but not necessarily repetitive) and rhyming, and let children participate.
While you read
- Read the title and author of the book before you start (so they associate it with a human and not a machine!) This can be added to by sharing facts of the author’s life (if they are interesting).
- Show the cover and ask the children what they think the book will be about.
- Use plenty of expression and sound effects, and adjust your pace and voice to fit the story.
- Mix in your own words with that of the author to create a reading dialogue.
- Keep readers involved by asking predictive or thinking questions (but during the story only you should be asking questions—save children’s questions for the end--or you will never get through the book!)
- Allow the reader to participate by providing key repeated words or phrases.
- Avoid long descriptive passages that slow the story. Paraphrase or skip parts if they are too much for children’s attention spans.
- Read slowly and make sure EVERYONE sees the pictures.
- If you spread a book out over several sessions, stop in a suspenseful spot!
At the end
- Allow time for a discussion. Ask questions without quizzing or expecting a book report.
- Applause! Clap as a way of sending thanks out to the artists and to encourage you, the reader!
- Read stories you don’t enjoy or that the audience doesn’t enjoy (you can stop reading books).
- Don’t read above your listener’s emotional level.
- Avoid books heavy with dialogue (they are hard to read).
- Don’t let questions slow down or stop your reading!
- Repetition equals recognition.
- Annotate and adapt text as needed to keep the story going and your audience engaged.
- Go with the flow—follow the attention span of your listeners on that day!
- Reading is ultimately about FUN. Enjoy it!
All reading tips compiled from:
- Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook. 6th ed. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006.
- “Reading is Fundamental.” 22 September, 2007. RIF, 2007. .<http://www.rif.org/parents/tips/default.mspx>.