How to Read to Your Child for Maximum Benefit
Reading to your child is easy to do, inexpensive, enjoyable for both of you, and has proven educational value for your child. A "read aloud" is a "nesting" time to be close, interactive, and personal between parent and child.
So how can you maximize the benefits from reading to your child?
- Make the read-aloud part of a routine. Make it a part of bedtime before "lights out", naptime before quiet period, storytime after dinner, or some other family time.
- Make it the same time of day and at a special place such as in bed, on the couch, beside the fireplace, or in a reading nook. The time should be available in your schedule on a regular basis. The place should be comfortable with little or no distractions. Remember, it's leisure time and the space should reflect that.
- Make the time periodic and continuous. Research suggests at least three times a week and daily would be even better. Also, children are rapidly developing their language skills from toddler to school age, so keep it up during this important time span.
- Connect the stories to recent or pending family experiences.
Let's talk more about number 4.
Active participation is key to getting the maximum benefit from reading aloud. You can set the stage for this active participation as follows:
- Each story in My Story Nest contains a preface describing the story. You can engage with your child by discussing what you think might happen. You might even want to try to guess what sounds the story will contain.
- While reading the story, play the sounds to give natural breaks. The sounds will also keep the child interested and excited. Many of the sounds are funny and will make your child laugh and increase their pleasure. We even deliberately chose some sounds that are not obviously consistent with the story – so something unexpected happens and makes your child giggle and pay attention. The sounds also give context to the words.
- Have the child choose what happens next. We didn't put simple yes/no choices in the stories. Instead, the child makes active, deliberate choices. In some stories, the choice might have them thinking about the consequences.
- Discuss the story afterwards. For Pre-K and K+ levels, we have carefully prepared discussion questions for you and your child to engage in a "Let's Talk" session. The list shown in "Let's Talk" changes on each reading of the story. Discussions after reading will build social interaction skills, attention and focus skills, reading comprehension skills, and engages children's imagination. (By the way, if you are wondering why no pictures, see the frequent questions answered page.)
(In technical terms, all of this is called directed listening thinking activity--DLTA).
You'll be excited and encouraged to watch your child's progress. By kindergarten level, they may be developing holistic comprehension, organizing their thoughts before answering, and personalizing to their own experiences. Their inferences and interpretations of My Story Nest stories will get more sophisticated over time.
The "read aloud story nest" is about the experience of enjoying reading and how it enriches both your lives.