Reading to Pre-Schoolers

What can you do with your three and four year old

In the pre-school years your child is a learning machine. Usually, the most effective reading program is simply created by example – finding ways to show your child that reading is fun. Show them that you enjoy reading. Let them see you read, comment aloud about interesting facts you uncover; show the value of reading directions, recipes, how-to materials; share the pleasure of relaxing with a magazine or novel; be expressive. Remember that children at this age love to imitate their parents. Give them lots to imitate.

This is also an excellent age for your child to learn to know more about books, to learn to enjoy and love books, and to learn about language.

This is the best time to introduce and emphasize the very important message that a story is about something, that it has meaning. Help your child discover that we find meaning by reading words. This is the basic groundwork for a lasting understanding – that your child should expect reading to make sense. When you pick up a book or magazine for yourself you might ponder aloud, “I wonder what this story is going to be about?” or “What do you think is going to happen next?” Show them you are curious, too.

  • Children at this age enjoy stories about the real world. This is the time when your child’s social development blossoms. Notice how intrigued a child is by changes in nature. At this age toddlers like humor and word play. They also begin to identify with specific storybook characters that have adventures. Start your child on books that are part of a series. Examples might be “Winnie The Pooh” or “Franklin”.
  • Follow your child’s interests so that you can get books, poems, or magazine articles on those subjects. Take them to the library or bookstore and let them choose books.
  • When you read a poem or verse, stop before you reach the end and let your child provide the rhyming word, or read a story leaving out some key words and let your child fill in the blanks
  • Play reading games. You read a page and then have your child read a page (even if he or she makes up the words) Play games wherever you are. Games, like: I spy with my little something that starts with the letter ‘S’ or the color ‘red’.
  • Make up interesting labels to put on your child’s possessions.
  • When you are going to be away from home on a quick errand write a message that can be read to your child while you are away.
  • Read road signs. Get tapes recordings of books. Find ways to build links between television and books.

Suggestion: Start a memory box. Create dividers in a box to hold childhood treasures that your child collects when you go for a walk in the park, the woods, or along a beach. The collection might consist of acorns, leaves, small stones, bird feathers, seashells, driftwood, coins and gifts or pictures that they like.

Suggestion: Create an adventure collection. If your child has a favorite book you can help him or her to start a collection of objects that relate to this book.

Label the objects in these collections to involve reading and writing.