You want to bond with your child through reading and are well aware it is something you should be doing.  In fact, The Read aloud 15 campaign reports that reading to your child is the single most important thing you can do to prepare their children for reading and learning.

They say that 15 minutes a day is enough to make a difference.  

Children with language and attention needs can be distracted and may not easily engage with many stories.  This makes it very challenging and can result in less reading time putting your child at an even greater disadvantage compared to their peers.

Here are some tips from Hanen’s It Takes Two to Talk book that I share with parents to transform shared reading from fleeting to fun:

#1 Sit Face to Face

By looking between you and the book your child develops a fundamental skill called joint attention.  It also gives them more visual cues for speech production, and they can see your facial expressions which add to their nonverbal cue learning and can increase the fun.

An easy way to do this with younger children is to sneak a story in before or after a snack while they are still in their high chair.

#2 Lighten the load

Select simple books with great pictures and modify the language as needed. You don’t have to read every word!  Try to provide models that are just one level about your child’s speaking ability.  For example, if they are using one-word utterances, provide two-word models.

#3 Take turns

Pause. Give space for your child to imitate your models, make a comment, or ask a question. Acknowledge nonverbal turns like pointing to pictures and page turning.  For older children, ask varied questions and model appropriate comments.  

The goal is a back and forth exchange discussing pictures and events.

#4 Follow your child’s lead

Select a few appropriate books and let your child pick which one is first, next, and last. As you are reading, don’t worry about staying in order with the pages.  If your child turns the page backward, go back and talk about what they are interested in and want to see again.  

This also means reading that book again and again as your child requests!

#5 Get into it

Bring the book to life with emphasis and expression.  Play peek-a-boo with lift-the-flap books, talk about what is funny or silly, make animal noises, tickle the characters, and use special voices.

#6 Break it up

Not all children can sit and engage with an adult for 15 minutes at a time.  Consider building in 5 three-minute or even 8 two-minute book reading sessions in your daily routine, and slowly increase the length as your child is able.

Parents who read to their children daily increase their vocabularies and bonding, and put their children on a better path for success in school and beyond.  

By skipping reading time, your child is exposed to fewer words and may have a fall behind academically.  Use these tips for keeping reading fun and make a point to spend at least 15 minutes with your child.

Jennifer Houch

Jennifer Houch

Speech-Language Pathologist

I equip children with the tools needed to increase their speech and language skills so they can reach their full potential socially and academically.
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