How to Read WITH Your Children Without Reading Every Word

October 23, 2020
Family Support
Basic Needs
Father reading book to daughter.

By Natacha Herisse

We all have heard about the importance of reading to your child daily. Research has shown the importance of reading to children regularly. Reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world around them. This process along with having back and forth conversations helps them to develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand written words. When we were young, we learned that reading a book must start from cover to cover. Today however, research shows that reading time has to be intentional, based on the child’s interest, and relatable to the child’s world. When you take into consideration these aspects as readers to young children, your time with the young minds will amount to learning gains.

What does the child interest look like? As parents, you should choose books according to what your child is interested in. Yes, parents, that might mean that you get to read a book over, over, and over again. Remember children learn through repetition, and varying your tone of voice when reading is acceptable. Children’s interest also means if he or she chooses to skip pages and change the narration of the story, that too is acceptable.This is also a good time to introduce new words and definitions to the young readers. For those of you for whom English is a second language, it’s okay to be innovative at this time to create the story in your native tongue. Remember, as long as your child is showing interest.

Intentional reading is knowing what your child already knows about the chosen story and what new learning you want her to gain.This process requires asking questions.These questions should be asked in ways that allow your child to explain his or her thoughts (“what do you think will happen?”, “Really? Tell me more”, etc.) This is how language development, thinking skills, and social skills are promoted.That process should not be rushed. Allow your child the time to process these questions and time to respond. Remember to check for your child’s understanding. This is also the time to keep your emotions in check. It’s all about what your child is able to learn and understand, not your teaching abilities. Also parents, keep in mind that books are categorized by age group. Therefore, choose books that are age appropriate.

Relatable to the child’s world means the literature you choose for the most part should reflect yours and your child’s world. That doesn’t mean that you will not introduce your child to other worlds’ realities and stories. As your young reader’s mind expands, you should be introducing him or her to other worlds’ realities. Remember, children learn best when they are able to relate and see themselves in the story that is being read to them. For example, after reading books like “Are You My Mother”, “Good Night Moon”, “Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See”, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” the list goes on children are able to relate the relationship between mother and child, saying good night when he/she sees the moon. Reading to your child should be a fun, meaningful, and reciprocal time. That time should be flexible, following the child’s lead. This means at times you might read every word and other readings might be short by doing a picture walk of the book. Parents, please remember, learning to read is learning to see. As your child is seeing pictures in the book, you are providing words, learning is happening, and the relationship is being build. Before you know it, your child will be reading stories back to you! 

Natacha Herisse, B.S. HSA. Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Natacha joined her mother in Florida at the age of 13.Coming from a Haitian background where education is the vector of social mobility, she went back to school at Barry University in 2002 to obtain a Bachelor in Health Science Management after serving for years as an Emergency Physician recruiter for a private company. Once completed, these studies became the first step toward pursuing her long time passion: teaching little ones;she then embarked in rewarding career with a non-profit, teaching Head Start and VPK. Also, she served at different capacities as a Family Engagement Specialist, Infant Toddler Specialist, Resource Teacher, Education Quality Coaching Specialist and Trainer, respectively.

As always the relentless desire to see her kids succeed is the main drive that keeps her motivation in fostering high quality education for all children irrespectively of socioeconomic status; therefore, she never misses an opportunity to be equipped with the best practices and training to carry this noble endeavor. Today, she is thrilled to be part of an organization that shares this vision of excellence for all.

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