Reading to Your Child
Q: Could you provide suggestions on how I should read to my child? How do I draw my child's attention to what is being read?
A: Your question is such an important one, because it is easy to underestimate the value of reading to your child and its connection to your child learning to read fluently and with good comprehension. One of the simplest but most critical techniques you can use is to "think aloud" in a conversational way. By this I mean that you can express the things you are noticing or wondering about as you get deeper and deeper into the story.
For example, in a story where a caterpillar eats different foods every day for a week, you might pause part way through the story and comment on what he has eaten so far. You could then wonder aloud what he might eat next, inviting your child to turn the page to find out. This fosters critical thinking (prediction skills) and keeps your child involved in the flow of the story.
Another point to keep in mind is that children benefit enormously by hearing stories read aloud more than once. The first time you read should be simply for enjoyment. It is not critical that your child processes every page in detail. On subsequent readings, you can take the time to explore parts of the book more deeply — examining the illustrations in terms of the words on the pages or inviting your child to chime in and "read" parts of the story that he remembers.
Susan Canizares holds a PhD in language and literacy development.