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The best part is that all you really need to do is make time for reading.

The methods below are just one way of helping children get more from books. They may not work for everyone, but hopefully, they'll give you an idea of where to start!

Importance of Reading

"We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading." B.F.Skinner

How Do I Introduce My Young Child to Reading?

by Becky L. Spivey, M.Ed.

      Why read to a child who doesn't understand language or sing to a toddler who can't sing along? These activities help children make early connections between words and meaning. When parents read and sing to young children, they create a safe, warm environment for children to appreciate the love and value of learning. Children enjoy any activities that bring them closer to the caring adults in their lives. Reading doesn't begin with memorizing letters and sounding out words. Adults help lay the foundation for reading in a child's early years by pointing at and naming objects while dressing an infant, naming foods while shopping with a toddler, or cooking with a preschooler. Engaging in conversation, reading, singing, and playing games with young children are important building blocks for learning to read.



Here are some suggestions for parents who want to help their young child become a successful reader.



  • Talk or sing to your baby when changing diapers, bathing, or engaging in play.

  • Introduce cloth books with bright pictures for baby to look at.

  • Point to words on signs at the zoo, park, or while walking or driving. Read the words aloud to baby.



  • When your child begins to notice letters, name the letters for him/her. Read the words and explain what they mean.

  • Read short stories before bed. Ask questions about the characters, setting, etc.

  • Let toddlers "write" shopping lists with you.

  • Give your child magnetic letters for the refrigerator, and teach him/her how to spell his/her name.



  • Allow preschoolers to help prepare recipes with simple steps.

  • Ask questions to preschoolers and kindergartners about the print they see in books. Help children connect words to the pictures.

  • Choose books with lots of pictures. Simple concept books that teach colors and shapes are fun.

  • Play picture card games.

  • Provide materials for the child to "write" a story about him/herself.

  • Continue to read bedtime stories, even if your child has learned to read.

  • Listen to the stories your child makes up, as well as their jokes and riddles.

  • Play simple word games like Scrabble Jr. or Boggle Jr.

  • Choose books with repetition so the child may anticipate what will be read.

  • Let your child see you reading for pleasure. Imitation is a powerful teacher.



National Association for the Education of Young Children- 1998. Raising a Reader, Raising a Writer: How Parents Can Help. Washington, DC

The Importance of Reading to Your Child for Early Literacy.

Inspiring young readers through Dialogic Reading

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” 

– Kate DiCamillo

For children who struggle to find the magic in stories, traditional reading methods often don’t do enough to inspire or engage.

Dialogic reading is the practice of reading interactively with children, developed by Dr. Grover J. Whitehurst, which allows them to become active participants in the telling of the story.


An adult asks simple questions to the child while reading, and then by expanding on the child’s responses, encourages them to retell the stories. By repeating names, objects, and events in a book, dialogic reading helps young children to build their basic language and literacy skills.

So for example, as a child looks at the front cover of a book, an adult may ask them ‘what do you think will happen in this story?’. The idea is to get the child to do most of the talking. Ask open-ended questions like ‘Why do you think Bob doesn’t see the cat?’. The adult then expands on the child’s responses with things like, ‘Yes – that is a dog chasing the cat’. The adult encourages further conversation by thinking aloud about the story, making comments like ‘I wonder how the girl is feeling after that happened…’


The best type of books for dialogic reading include rich illustrations, interesting characters, and situations that require thinking or problem-solving. Look for books that use interesting language as a chance to expand your child’s vocabulary. As it’s a book you’ll read together, you can afford to look for word counts slightly higher than your child would read on their own, or with language that is slightly more sophisticated.

Remember, it’s the quantity and quality of the interactions children receive which helps them develop positive attitudes towards reading. Make time each day to read with your child, keeping it relaxed, cozy and calm.

What is Dialogic Reading?

Dialogic reading is the practice of reading interactively with children. This allows them to become active participants in the telling of the story. The adult simply asks questions to the child while reading then expands on the child’s responses.

This encourages them to retell the story. By repeating names, objects and events in a book help young children to build their basic language and literacy skills.

What's the Benefit?

  • Dialogic reading deepens children’s engagement with a story and text through enjoyable interactions with an attentive adult. 

  • It helps emergent readers develop strong literacy, comprehension and language skills.

  • Children (especially reluctant readers) generally enjoy this type of reading more than traditional reading.

PEER Technique

The basic technique used in dialogic reading is PEER. This is a helpful way of remembering how to interact with your child while they read:

Prompt the child to say something about the book

Evaluate the child’s response,

Expand the child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it, and

Repeat the prompt to make sure the child has learned from the expansion.


So, you may be wondering what this looks like when you are reading with your child.  If you and your child were reading a book about animals, and stop on a page with a cat on it, you would ask, “what's this?” (the prompt) while pointing at the cat. Your child says “cat,” and you say, “that’s right!” (the evaluation,”) it’s a brown cat (the expansion;) can you see any other cats?” (the repetition.)


There’s also another acronym to remember that’ll help inspire the types of prompts you can use     

  It’s called CROWD


Completion Prompts: leave a blank at the end of a sentence for your child to fill in.

Recall ask ‘can you tell me what happened?’

Open-ended prompts – ‘Tell me what’s happening in this picture’.

Wh’ prompts – What, where, when, why and how questions.

Distancing prompts – relate what your reading to outside experiences, ‘remember when we saw a dog?’

Ask Questions like:

· Where is the _____?

· Can you touch the _____?

· What noise does that animal make?

· What is this called?

· What can you see in this picture?

· What is that person doing?

· Why do you think he did that?

· Have you ever done that?

· How do you think she feels?

· Have you ever felt like that?

· What would you do next?

· That’s a bit like____ that happened to you, isn’t it?

· What do you think that would look like?

General Tips 

for Reading  with

your Child

  • Give everything a name. Build your child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects.

  • Remember to talk about how much you enjoy reading, it’ll make reading a more positive experience for your kids.

  • Always use expression and voices when you read to bring the story to life – there’s nothing more off-putting than a deadpan delivery.

  • Know when to stop. Put the book away when a child loses interest. Don’t force them to continue.

  • Be interactive and discuss what’s happening on the page.

  • Read their favorite book again, and again, and again. It will help teach them to look beyond the first layer of a story. This type of exploration is easier if a child already knows the basic story.

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