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Reading to your child at their earliest age is important!

November 2009

When you spend a few moments to look at a book and read it to your child on a regular basis, you are not only sharing a chosen moment of intimacy with your child, you are also helping your child discover the world around them.

How?

Reading out loud, whether it is by naming pictures, describing a scene or telling a story, you are:

  • helping your child develop auditory attention skills and better listening strategies.
  • increasing the number and variety of words as well as sentence structures heard by your child.
  • contributing to your child’s learning comprehension and use of new vocabulary, and familiarity with the world.
  • helping your child develop their memory and attention span.
  • raising your child’s awareness to written language and enabling them to draw meaning from pictures.

Furthermore, storytelling and naming pictures (with accompanying tone of voice, sounds and gestures) stimulate your child’s imagination and interest as well as heightens their comprehension.

Of course, what is said must be adapted to your child’s skill level. Your way of telling a story will vary according to your child’s language development skills. And as for an infant less than a year old, pictures are named by pointing at them and by making sounds associated to the object, animal, etc.

Your child is already talking, making short sentences? You can describe scenes by using more complete sentences but adapted to your child’s skill level.

Attention must also be paid to the fact that some children experience limitations in other areas of development that can impact the quality of how they experience things. For example, these can include difficulties with fine motor skills or with muscle control linked to speech.

What book to choose?

My child is not really interested in pictures...
If this is the case, choose a book that has simple pictures with little detail yet with bright colours that will grab your child’s attention. To start, the pictures can be lifelike images (photos) or even textured pictures, meaning that certain parts of the picture are made of fabric that evoke different tactile sensations: rough, soft, sandy, creased, etc. Clear pictures of objects or actions of everyday life may then follow. Audio books are also a good option; they stimulate and direct your child’s attention by associating a sound with an object.

This way, you will be helping your child recognize items made of two-dimensional material as well as increase their vocabulary.

Does your child have a motor skill disorder or difficulty controlling saliva? Opt for laminated bath books or cardboard books that are easy to hold, easier to clean and that generally contain many visual features.

My child makes short comments...
Then opt for picture books that are slightly more complex, and that place the object or action in a familiar context, which will allow you to describe the pictures. For example: the girl is playing ball; the rabbit is hopping, etc.

There are different categories of books. Some books contain themes already familiar to your child such as times of the day and activities at home; or a specific theme or concept like animals, colours or numbers. Other books may feature one or several characters that go on adventures. In some cases, these may include television or movie characters that are already familiar to your child. In general, these books feature short stories with plot sequences that are simple and easy to follow and understand.

Eventually, depending on your child’s skill level, you will have the chance to read more complex books full of events that increasingly appeal to your child’s imagination.

Is there a book that interests your child?
Don’t hesitate to read it to your child as many times as your child desires! This will help your child integrate the books concepts and will further stimulate your child’s interest in reading.

Most of all, don’t deny your child these few precious moments of reading with you. You both have so much to gain from this shared experience!

Notes

Line St-Laurent,
Speech Therapist
École Jean-Piaget.

About this page
Updated on 3/20/2015
Created on 1/19/2015
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