What did the early days of reading stories to kids look like? Let’s just say, it was a learning curve. I didn’t have many storytimes as a kid myself, so I was winging it—big time. Now, as a parent for the third round, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.
Reading’s not just a pastime in our house; it’s woven into the fabric of our daily lives. And let me tell you, my little ones— yep, even the baby — can’t get enough of their books. It’s never too late to spark that book-loving fire in your children’s hearts. Ready to turn a new page? Let’s dive into those early reading faux pas and get you storytelling like a pro.
Avoiding the Cover
Do make a habit of reading the cover, including the title, author, and illustrator’s name(s), and make predictions about the story based on the cover. Through repetition, you’ll train your child’s mind to appreciate and understand an author’s style. Eventually, your child will recognize the same author’s name or an illustrator’s artistic style and it opens up discussions by comparing and contrasting different books. In Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, children may notice that the art style is very similar and subtly references each book within the illustrations.
Ever skip the cover and dive right into the story? I’ve been there. Here’s a tip: always read the cover out loud. It sets the stage, you know? Start from the top, literally. Reading the cover out loud is like rolling out the red carpet for a story. It’s where you introduce the star cast—the title, the author, and the illustrator. Try turning it into a game where you and your little one guess the story from the cover art. It’s a playful way to kick off reading time.
For instance, take a peek at Margaret Wise Brown’s classics Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. Point out the art style to your child. They’ll begin to pick up on the subtle nods each book makes to the other in the illustrations. It’s a fun way to build a connection, not just with the story, but with the storyteller too. Before you know it, your kiddo will be spotting their favorite authors and artists just from the cover—how cool is that?
Rushing Through Each Page
Quality over quantity, folks. Picture books might be short, but they’re bursting with details. So, after you read those words, pause. Let your child soak up the art. Then, hand them the reins and let them turn the page when they’re ready. Ultimately, it’s all about savoring the story, not speeding through.
Reading Stories TO Kids (Instead of With Kids)
Reading is a team sport. Don’t just read TO your child; engage in active reading by reading WITH your child. Delve into the characters, the story, the illustrations. Ask questions to provoke deeper thought and enhance their critical thinking and comprehension. Use silly voices to animate the characters, forging an emotional bond with the story and making it stick in your little one’s memory.
Want to really supercharge your read aloud powers? First, start by making connections to the real world to ground the story’s lessons in their everyday life. Next, show emotions to demonstrate empathy and help your child recognize and express their own feelings. Then, act out those monkeys in Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, and watch your child giggle with delight. This approach turns reading into a collaborative adventure, enriching the experience with every turn of the page.
Waiting to Answer Questions
Kids are naturally curious little beings, and classic storybooks serve as their treasure maps. Consequently, when they interrupt your reading of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ with a ‘why do the monsters look funny?’ embrace this detour. Similarly, if ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ elicits a ‘what is a McGregor?’ they’re not merely asking questions; indeed, they’re unlocking doors to their vivid imagination. Furthermore, these moments offer precious glimpses into their minds and present the ideal opportunity for a meaningful heart-to-heart. Therefore, by engaging with their curiosity, you and your child can embark on a journey together, navigating through the wild woods of Max’s adventures or the vegetable patches in Mr. McGregor’s garden, exploring and learning hand in hand.
Not Repeating the Same Book
Reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” on repeat might test your patience, but for your preschooler, it’s uncharted territory every single time. Every reread is an opportunity to delve deeper and uncover new treasures hidden within the same familiar pages.
For instance, one day, you might focus on the colors: “What color is the bear? Can you find something else around us that’s brown?” The next day, turn your attention to the animals’ sounds: “What sound does a duck make? Let’s quack like a duck together.” Another day, discuss habitats: “Where does a frog live? Then follow up with, can we pretend to jump like frogs to their pond?”
Consequently, each reading can bring a new dimension to the same story, reinforcing concepts and making each experience with the book unique. This way, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” becomes not just a story but a springboard for endless learning and fun.
Not Making Connections while Reading Stories to Kids
Finally, think of yourself as a safari guide in the wilds of a story. Point out the little details, the connections to your child’s world. Such as, when you read Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, ask about their own experiences with animals. “Remember when we saw that duck at the park?” It’s about linking stories to life—making each read a meaningful journey.
Fostering Curiosity: It’s Okay Not to Have All the Answers
Kids are question machines, aren’t they? And boy, do they come up with some doozies. Sometimes, their questions—like how the earth was made or the special defenses of dinosaurs—can stump even the brainiest parent. Here’s the thing: it’s perfectly okay to admit when you don’t know. In fact, it’s a golden opportunity to show your little one that learning never stops.
Saying, “I’m not sure, but let’s discover that together,” is powerful. It teaches them that not knowing is the start of an adventure, not the end. Plus, it’s a big thumbs-up for their emotional and social growth. So next time you’re met with a tough question, grab a book and dive in. You’re not just finding answers; you’re showing your child what it means to be a lifelong learner. That’s the real magic of reading.
Sheryll is the proud mom to 3 boys (3, 7, and 14-years-old) and wife to her better half. She is the founder and CEO of TigerKubz and is on a mission to empower parents with tools to easily engage their little learners. When Sheryll is not thinking of creative ways to make learning experiences of everyday life, changing diapers, or chasing after her kids, you may find her in the kitchen trying out new recipes, attempting to fish on a nice day, or jamming out to Disney singalongs with Alexa.