One of the best things about reading to young children is the fact
that it is a shared activity. Children learn more when adults take
the time to interact with them. Stories can offer more than just
entertainment and facts; stories offer children opportunities to
practice problem solving, sequence and language skills. Stories
introduce children to other people, other cultures and other environments.
Stories encourage dramatic play situations, such as dress-up and
projects such as building forts. Stories can also open the door
to cooking projects and new foods.
It is important to choose stories for your child that are age appropriate.
Preschoolers enjoy picture books. A good rule of thumb is to make
sure that the story has no more characters than the age of your
child. Stories should be meaningful to your child and not be too
long. Preschoolers love stories that rhyme and ones that are predictable.
Reading to your child can help increase his vocabulary and his
reasoning skills. Stop every once in a while and have him guess
what will happen next. At the end of the story, discuss how he might
have changed the story if he had been the author. Be sure to reread
favorite stories over and over. Young children love practicing their
memory skills by recalling what is going to happen.
Most parents read to children at bedtime. Their main consideration
here is to calm them down, to disengage their minds so that they
will fall asleep. Unfortunately, there is little learning taking
place at this time. Reading at bedtime is fine, just don't make
it the only time you read to your child. Learning takes place when
children have active discussions about the story or when they try
to anticipate what will happen next. Children need to be encouraged
to extend their favorite stories into creative play situations.
Reading to your child is the best investment you can make in your