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Make the Most of Books

Just enjoy, don’t try to teach

You might think that books help children with language because they learn the words on the page but actually it’s the words off the page that count. It’s the conversation between you and your child about the book that increases vocabulary and understanding. Rather than focus on any single skill, make it fun. First, kids need to have positive experiences with books. As a parent, if you make fun your top priority, you’ll find that many of the benefits of book-reading follow naturally without you having to push.

  • Let your child choose the book.
  • Let the child turn the pages and don’t worry if pages get skipped.
  • Let your child go at his/her own pace. If you don’t finish the book, it’s ok.
  • Look for conversation starters in your child’s comments.

Countdown 5-4-3-2-1

Before you turn the page, wait silently to give your child a chance to point out something that interests him/her. The time it takes to countdown might seem like an awkwardly long pause at first, but your child will understand that you are interested in knowing what interests him and what he has to say. Try it for a couple of weeks, and you’ll find that what seemed awkward is now a comfortable pace.

Examples using Goodnight Gorilla

It might sound simplistic, but the success here is that the child says “Uh Oh” after the parent. More progress will be evident on the second, third or fourth reading of Goodnight Gorilla when the child says “Uh Oh” before the parent because now she knows the sequence. There will be delighted giggles all around.

Child: Ball (pointing to the ball in the cage)
Parent: There is a ball in there. What else is in there?
(In a wondering aloud tone; not like a quiz.)
Wait 5-4-3-2-1
Turns page and sees the Gorilla stealing the keys
Uh oh
Child: Uh oh

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