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Reading Aloud to Children Part 2

My previous post gave information regarding the importance of reading aloud to children of all ages.  The article by NAEYC breaks down the ages of these children into infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners and primary-aged children.  Keep reading to find out what they have to say!

Infants:

Even though infants may not be able to form sentences to discuss books with you, you are playing a large role in their development by reading aloud to them.  You are encouraging them to use their senses by listening to the story, seeing the words and pictures, and touching the pages.  If you let them get involved and point to pictures, take that as an opportunity to tell them what they are pointing at; that will become beneficial in expanding their vocabulary.  Infants pointing to pictures also represents that they are beginning to understand that pictures represent objects.  By reading aloud to infants, they will eventually grasp onto concepts about print, such as book orientation (knowing which way a book is held) and directionality (knowing which way to turn the pages).

When looking at what types of books will be the most enjoyable and developmentally appropriate for infants, the first two words that come to my mind would be interactive and durable.  Board books will be your saving grace with infants.  Not only are they durable, they are also much easier for infants to grasp.  Cloth and vinyl books would also be appropriate for this age.   Books that infants will find interesting are those that include rhyming, bright pictures, familiar objects, sounds, lift the flap, and ones that include various textures.  Engage your infant as much as possible by letting them repeat words, turn pages, and describe to them what is happening in the pictures.

Toddlers:

Toddlers are beginning to be able to make connections between books and real life.  Reading aloud with toddlers increases their vocabulary and listening skills.  Toddlers love when they are able to participate and this also helps keep them engaged.  They love books with rhyming, predictable words they can remember, and flannel stories.  Children at this age are becoming more and more curious.  Support this by reading books that they are interested in.  Books about emotions and self-help skills are beneficial for toddlers.  They are able to connect these books to what is currently happening in their development.  They are growing enough that they are able to discuss these elements with you and love to tell you what they are thinking.

Preschoolers:

Preschool-age children are beginning to develop higher-order thinking skills.  With that, they will begin to be able to talk about characters, settings, and plot, and be able to relate them to their own lives.  They are building their vocabularies and noticing that book language differs from spoken language.  Their understanding of print concepts becomes increasingly more advanced as well.  Children at this age are beginning to understand that the words in a book are spoken words written down, letters in words are written in a specific order, and that words are separated by spaces.

When reading books, start by choosing books that are relatable to what is happening in their development and lives.  These books should promote their curiosity; read books about topics they are interested in as well as introducing new topics.  I see this so often with project work.  The children are reading and examining books that are about their topic of choice.  Phonemic awareness is a big part of development for children at this age, so find books that include poems, rhymes, and alliterations.  Begin to expand with them by explaining all the parts of the book to them (title, author, illustrator, etc), have them make predictions and ask questions that make them think (“Why do you think she did that?”).

Kindergarteners and Primary School Children:

I feel that I too often hear that once children learn how to read, it becomes unnecessary for them to be read to.  That statement is false and here is why.  Not only are they growing from the three previous stages, but they are also becoming exposed to various writing styles and structures and determining what and whom they prefer.  We can now begin to read them more difficult texts, such as chapter books.  I observed in a third grade classroom where the teacher would read a chapter aloud to her students everyday.  I thought this was great because the children were so engulfed in the book and it was evident they were still enjoying it.  Another great aspect of books for older children is that many of them are series.  Children have the ability to become more motivated to read and see what happens between the characters throughout the different books.  Once again, discussion should be a prominent component of reading.  This can be done to check for comprehension as well as getting the children to think deeper about the plot, their own opinions and reactions, and compare and contrast other books they have read.

Children are constantly developing and by reading aloud to them, we are supporting those areas.  There is so much that children can learn through books; from as simple as touching the pages to reflecting on what they might do if they were ever in the same position as a certain character.  Their language is growing tremendously, as well as their interests.  Read, read, read, and let your child’s imagination soar.

Interested in more information, tips, and strategies about reading aloud to children?  Follow the link to check out the full article!

http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200303/ReadingAloud.pdf

Stay tuned for more,

~ Chelsea

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