What was a book you remember reading and loving as a child? Was it one you read on your own? Was it one that your family read to you? Was it one that you still go back to, or that you read to your children now?
Even if we don’t remember our earliest read alouds, they influenced us in an extraordinary way. Our educational child care center has some tips to help you grow in your read-aloud practice and to make the experience with your child the best it can be. Learn more from Yellow Brick Road, and schedule a tour with our Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, or Plymouth locations — we’d love to meet you!
Start From Day One
Before your child is even born, their library should contain a pretty solid collection. The day you bring them home from the hospital, start reading aloud. At eight weeks old, your child will begin to start focusing, and reading aloud is just another enriching experience that helps guide their growth and development. Plus, this helps build a routine, so that by the time they’re old enough to understand what’s happening in the story, they’re used to the action of being read to.
Get a Library Card
The library is one of the most magical places in the world. Free classes, educational resources, child-based programs, and it’s free? It’s almost too good to be true. Just as you should start reading to your child right away, you should also start taking them to the library as soon as you feel comfortable. It’s a great way to swap out books without spending a fortune, and there are always parent and kid-friendly activities that are going on. Plus, it makes literacy and library trips just part of the fabric of your child’s routine.
Even when they can’t answer just yet, get in the habit of asking your child questions about the story that you’re reading. Start with basic questions, such as “What color is the bunny’s hat?” and then expand into deeper comprehension questions, such as “How is the bunny feeling? How can you tell?” The next level is for toddler-aged children and older, and this level of questioning involves making the story relevant to their lives. Asking things like “When have you felt sad like the bunny?” helps them create a connection to the story and get more invested.
Make a Routine
Find a time in your day, each and every day, where you and your child can get invested in a story. For many families, this is right around bedtime, but if you find something works better, go for that. Not only should you be creating a read-aloud routine with your child, you should be doing it every single day. Repetition and routine will make those powerful literacy concepts stick.
Lots of parents have a child who cannot sit still for read-alouds, even if (much to their surprise), the child’s siblings had no issues with read-alouds. Don’t let this become an excuse to skip read alouds! If your child struggles to sit during a read aloud or doesn’t seem interested, it’s your responsibility to meet them at their level. For starters, always look for something that seems interesting to them — even if it was your favorite childhood book and they’re not into it, there might be something else that they love. You can also try to make read alouds more engaging by having your child act out what’s happening. Bringing movement into read-alouds is easy to do!
“Again!” “One more time!” “Another!” What parent hasn’t heard those phrases by their young one? It’s so exciting for kids to love reading and listening to books, but it’s also healthy for you to set some boundaries.
Sometimes kids just need things conceptualized. They can say “one more” and know that it means they get another story, but they might not understand if you say “only three books tonight!” Take a whiteboard and draw a rectangle with two lines in it (dividing it into thirds). Explain that this is how many books they get tonight, and have them help color in after you read a story. Once the bar is full and colored in, they’re out of stories. After that, they’ll likely be less upset, but if they are, you set your limits and all you can do is empathize with them: “I know you wish we could read more, I get why you’re upset. But you and I both need sleep so we can enjoy more books tomorrow!”
Not every child is going to automatically love reading, but every child has the potential to. Try books with fun textures and tactile elements, take trips to the bookstore and see what your child is drawn to, model reading aloud to yourself, read books that have movies made for them and make that a reward for after reading the book (for smaller books, read them multiple times first) — there are a million ways to try to help your child connect to a book.
By enrolling your child with the educational child care programs available at Yellow Brick Road, reading and read alouds will continue to be reinforced outside of the classroom. We value and prioritize developing literacy at an early age, and your child will be more than prepared for their educational future. Make reading and learning a priority in your child’s life — schedule a tour with Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center.