Share the following tips with parents to help them make the most of reading experiences with their children:
Infants (Birth to 1 year) Include small board books for children to grasp with their little hands. Larger board books are very visually stimulating because the pictures are big and bright. Cuddle up and read books together, but don't forget that babies will also enjoy exploring books on their own. Store several books along with your baby's toys.
Toddlers (1 to 2 years) Try reading lift-the-flap books and other types of engineered books, such as pop-up books and books that make noises. Children at this age love peek-a-boo and the surprises that go with predicting what they might see.
Older Toddlers (2 to 3 years) Encourage your child to participate in reading predictable books, such as Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. After reading the book several times, pause during a familiar refrain, "I do not like them Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and..." At first you'll need to encourage your child, providing the missing words with "Let's say it together," but soon she will catch on to the game and excitedly call out the word.
Young Preschoolers (3 to 4 years) Select some non-fiction information books with "real" pictures (photographs rather than illustrations). Books about bugs, worms, butterflies, sharks, dolphins, and horseshoe crabs delight children, especially after visiting the seashore, zoo, or aquarium. Take pictures of your visit and write your own book, capturing your child's special experiences in captions related to the pictures. Books including 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle, or Look Alike Animals by Robin Bernard enhance children's experiences.
Preschoolers (4 to 6 years) Introduce your child to wordless books and encourage him to tell you a story. Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola is a wonderful way to get started. The pictures are vivid and interesting and will guide your child in telling a story that has a beginning, middle, and end. The Red Book by Barbara Lehman, with its contrasting colors and clear structure will absolutely delight children and give them practice in telling and retelling stories.