Top 10 Book Sharing Strategies for Wiggly Children

by | Feb 1, 2024 | Inspirations

Reading with children fifteen minutes a day improves their chances of success in school.

That’s quite a claim but, increasingly, research supports it. Cunningham and Stanovich’s study with first-graders, whom they followed for ten years, showed that first-grade reading abilities were strong predictors of reading outcomes in grade eleven. (Cunningham, A.E., & Stanovich, K.E. (1997). Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental Psychology, 33, 934-945.)

Who knew grade one reading skills would have such staying power?

Yet many reading skills children learn by grade one are skills they have begun to learn at home. Vocabulary skills (knowing the names of things), comprehension skills (understanding what things mean), narrative skills (storytelling), and book knowledge (words are read from top to bottom, left to right, page by page) are woven into our daily  interactions with children at home. Parents who sing or share rhymes, and who point out letters in print, expose their children to phonological awareness and letter recognition skills too.

Reading with children, though, can have its challenges.  Babies don’t have long attention spans. Toddlers and energetic preschoolers don’t always sit long either! What’s a parent to do?

Consider these 10 book-sharing suggestions for wiggly youngsters:

  1. Share picture books with babies and toddlers at meal, snack times or bath times. When children are busy eating Cheerios in their highchair, or floating a toy boat in the bathtub, they are a captive audience.
  2. Keep a few brightly coloured board books with big, simple pictures within babies’ reach so they can see, handle, drag, and mouth books throughout their day.
  3. Find books that can be sung or shared with rhythm and rhyme so that toddlers and preschoolers can clap or move to the story, or you can gently bounce or sway your child to the rhythm of the words.
  4. Make reading an adventure. Use a blanket to set up a reading fort with pillows and books inside, or use a flashlight to read stories together after you’ve turned out their bedroom light at night.
  5. Share children’s audio books together. Children don’t have to sit to listen, but audio books do help children learn story structure. For example, stories beginning with “Once upon a time” end with “happily ever after.” Audio books are great for learning new vocabulary and boosting comprehension skills too.
  6. Take a picture walk through the book rather than read it. Educators often use this strategy to help young children develop better language and literacy skills.
  7. Flip to a page your child finds interesting and just talk about that one picture. Books don’t always have to be shared from beginning to end.
  8. Read with expression in your voice and face. Change up the voices of characters in the story. Read some words loudly; others softly. Keep your reading pace slow enough for your child to process the words and ideas.
  9. Follow your child’s lead. If your child loses interest and closes the book before you get to the end of the story, that’s okay. It’s more important to make book time fun than long.
  10. Re-read books your child has grown to love. If your child wants to hear or look at a book over and over again, there is still something your child needs from that book. Be sure well-loved/worn books are close at hand.

How you share books at home may be as unique as each family and child. Deciding to share books with your child may also become the golden key that opens their eyes to the love of reading and joy of learning.