Updated: Jun 23
This is part one of some number in my summer series of books. Since most of us won’t be traveling this summer, or at least not as much as in summers past, I thought a series on how to make storytime fun and educational with your little one would be a good fit.
Before you rely solely on the garden hose and the TV for summer entertainment, take a look at your bookshelf! That's right, that copy of Goodnight Moon that's sitting on your shelf, the one that's been stepped on a few times, might be missing half a page, and has some kind of pasta residue on the cover, that book can be a much more powerful tool in developing your child's language than most of the children apps or TV shows out there. It's easy to overlook something as simple and quiet as a book. There are no noises and no flashing lights to pull your little one into the story. Technology entrances a child but books teach a child. But, hey, if they're listening to an ABC song on the iphone then they're learning, right?
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but most apps, even the "educational ones" aren't so great for learning functional communication. And by functional communication, I mean language that serves a purpose- the purpose of asking for something, sharing something exciting, commenting on something interesting. This is all purposeful and functional. Learning colors and shapes has some use but when was the last time you were able to communicate anything useful using the words red, green, blue, circle, octagon, square? This excludes any civil engineers who are reading this blog, of course.
So what does a book need in order for it to have that magnetic quality that just draws a child in and keeps them hooked until the last word?
YOU! You’re the missing piece.
Before I give you my first tip, you need to know that building your child’s interest in books takes time. It won’t happen overnight. For eight weeks, I held parent group for parents whose children had developmental differences. We really focused on reading. We modeled how to read books to young children, and then recorded the parents reading to their children. Parents initially reported that they didn’t read very often to their children because their children simply didn’t like books. But, after about six weeks of really practicing all of the tips we gave them, these parents and their children had a total change of heart when it came to books. The parents felt successful and the children were interested! It felt so good to see that not only were these little ones were on the right path to reading, they were also getting closer to their parents. It was a win-win. This didn’t happen overnight but it did happen.
So, now we’re going to BOOK-it.
If reading feels boring and like a chore to you, just imagine how it’s going to feel to your child. We need to make silly voices, act out the book as we flip through each page, and have fun. No one is watching you except your children and they already think you’re kind of odd.
Observe and comment
Comment more and ask less questions. Focus on what your child is looking at and comment on those things. There’s no need to read word for word. You can always get started with just turning the pages and seeing what jumps out at you.
Organize your reading time
Have a daily ritual of book reading. Maybe you have story time before a nap or bed. Or both. You can always find time to squeeze in books other parts of the day but if you can also find a consistent time to read, this will help your child expect that reading is going to happen.
I’m going to be sending you more tips as the weeks of summer pass, so keep trying and see what works for you and your children.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about books? And, what is your child’s favorite book? Comment below!