Reading good books with your child is instrumental in building your relationship and cultivating a love for reading. The hours of quality time are invaluable, and the developmental benefits to the child are numerous. For these reasons, it is especially important to build a large collection of good children’s books.
If your child already has a bookshelf stocked with some favorite titles, then you have made a good start. Here are some tips to continue building your child’s library into a source of entertainment that will give video games and television some serious competition-
Humor: Add books that make your child laugh. Seek out books that have funny illustrations and silly stories that will tickle your child. Laughter increases the entertainment value of the reading experience and engages the child in the story.
Variety: A wide variety of books is extremely important. Highly esteemed Caldecott Medal winners are wonderful to read. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories can be appreciated on many levels for years to come. Keep in mind that it is just as important to add some lightweight choices, such as those featuring favorite cartoon characters or movie stars. Just like adults, kids need diverse reading material to select from depending on their mood.
Reading Level: Be sensitive to your child’s reading level. Forcing a child to sit through a book that is too difficult can lead to frustration and turn your child against reading. While there are benefits to reading slightly above a child’s level, time is best spent when the book is on par with the child’s reading comprehension. Here are some pointers for finding books at the right level for your child:
- Quantity of written content: Take into account your child’s attention span. If there are too many words on a page, a restless child may tune out before the story is over.
- Vocabulary: Reading books is an excellent way to build a child’s vocabulary. However, too many unfamiliar words may cause the child to lose interest in the story. A good rule of thumb is that for a content-rich story, there should be no more than 5 new words per page.
- Storyline: Make sure that the story itself is appropriate for your child’s age. If the story is too advanced, even if the vocabulary is easy, a young child will lose interest. Stick with more concrete books early on and save the abstract stories for later.
Let Your Child Pick: Engage your child in the process of selecting new books. Take your child to the bookstore and spend time in the children’s section looking at all of the choices. Try not to steer your child toward your preference; rather, let your child take the lead and seek out titles that seem interesting to him or her.
Give Books as Gifts: Books are the single best present you can give a child. Though toys win the popularity contest at gift-opening time, books have staying power long after all the plastic has been forgotten. So think about ways you can inject fun into giving a book. Here’s an idea- make it the last present he or she opens…and then send your child on a scavenger hunt around the house to find it. Or, establish a tradition in your family where the child gets a new book the day before his or her birthday. Find ways to make it memorable and exciting.
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