My favorite time of the day was always during school hours, and not just because I loved to learn. There were always opportunities to read. I still love reading to this day and so do all of my sisters. However, sometimes, simply reading to your children is not enough to give them the pre-reading skills they need for modern preschools and kindergartens.
Bradford Wiles, an Assistant Professor, and Extension Specialist in early childhood development at Kansas State University, is currently conducting research on the reading skills of children aged 3-5. Obviously children at this age can’t ready yet, or have very basic literacy skills, but learning to read actually occurs long before children have the skills to read words.
"My focus is on helping parents read with their children and extending what happens when you read with them and they become engaged in the story,” says Wiles. When you read to a child during this age range, they may become engaged in the story and love that you read to them, but they aren’t really learning how to read by simply listening.
To build emergent literacy skills, children need to participate in the reading. Wiles says that reading shouldn’t just happen before bedtime, it should happen at any time throughout the day. When you read to your children, have them sit with you so that they can see the pages in the book. This way, children learn some very valuable reading skills without even knowing how to read the words. Track the words with your finger, eventually, your children will mimic this and it will teach them that words go left to right in a book. Also, show them how to turn the page to continue the story. Page turning and tracking are crucial elements of emergent literacy.
Ask your child open-ended questions while reading as well. Ask them what they think the characters will do next and why they think so. This will encourage critical thinking. Also, teach them how to find the relationship between the pictures and the words. After reading a passage with a picture, tell them how the picture illustrates the words you just read.
Wiles’ research and other emergent literacy research have found that that reading with young children and engaging them can make a positive impact on the child's future and their family.
Source: Kansas State University Research and Extension (2013, September 12). Read with your children, not to them. ScienceDaily.