Growing Into Books

How to Read to Your Child

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Notice What Your Child is Learning When you Read to Her

When you read to your child every day, three important things happen:

  • Your child will learn about reading by pretending to read
  • Your child will learn to ask and answer questions
  • Your child will learn to enjoy books.

1. Your Child Pretends to Read:

Children love to retell stories. Sometimes they even learn parts of stories by heart, especially the stories that you have read them many times. Be sure to give your child a turn to choose favorite stories to hear again. When you do, you might notice your child pretending to read. Your child will join in on familiar words, such as, "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man!" Your child might say, "The End" when you get to the last page.

"Pretend reading" is not "true reading" but it is an important step to becoming a reader. When your child does pretend to read, show that you are excited about it. Say, "Wow, you are learning to read!" or, "Did I hear you read those words?" Let your child hear you tell someone else about her "reading" too. This will praise your child for practicing and dreaming of being a real reader. Unfortunately, some adults say, "You aren't really reading. You just memorized that." Try not to let anyone say this to your child. This can hurt your child's feelings.

2. Your Child Asks and Answers Questions:

When you and your child read together and talk about books, your child learns many skills that will help her succeed at school. Here are two examples:

  • When you ask your child to find something in a picture, or ask your child to find a familiar alphabet letter—you are asking the same kinds of questions that teachers ask in school.
  • When your child asks you questions about the story, you can help your child understand the words and story better. The words and sentences in stories are more complicated than our everyday talk. Children who enjoy listening to "book talk" usually listen better at school, too.

3. Your Child Has Favorite Kinds of Books:

When you read to your child every day, your child will let you know which stories are her favorites. When your child says, "I want another book about trucks," you should feel proud of her. She wants to learn more about something; and she knows that she can learn by reading books.

  • Library Visits are always a great idea. When your child asks for certain kinds of books, it is a perfect time to take her to the library. The librarian can help your child find those books. Of course, you can still choose good books for your child, too, but always let your child choose her favorites too.


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last updated 4/25/05
©2004 The Pennsylvania State University
U.Ed. LIB 03-64