Did you know that reading to your child is one of the best ways to improve her speech and language skills?  It’s true!  If you only have time to do one thing per day to help your child’s communication, my suggestion would be to read to her.  Here are some tips on how to read to kids to increase your child’s speech and language skills.  You can (and should) do this even if your child doesn’t have any speech or language problems!

How to Read to Kids #1: Read Slowly

Children learn more from books when they are read slowly.  It will sound very weird to you to read so slowly, but trust me: it will help!  If you are really struggling with reading at a slower rate, try using longer pauses between sentences.

How to Read to Kids #2: Re-Read Books That You’ve Already Read

Has your child ever asked you to read the same book so many times that you thought your head might explode?  That’s great!  Children also learn more from books when they are read over and over again.  The more times you read it, the more he will pick up.  It’s like when you watch a movie for the second time and you pick up on things you missed the first time around.  That’s how it is for children hearing books.

How to Read to Kids #3: Trace Your Finger Under the Words while you Read

This is a great strategy because it begins to teach children that the words on the page contain the meaning of the story.  It also shows them that text is read from left to right and from top to bottom.

How to Read to Kids #4: Ask Your Child to Point to Pictures in the Book

Do this as you’re reading the book by saying “where’s the cat?” or “show me the dog.”  This will help build your child’s vocabulary and knowledge of common objects.  It can also help keep your child engaged in the story.

How to Read to Kids #5: Ask Your Child Questions About What’s Going on in the Book

This will increase your child’s understanding of what is happening as well as their ability to answer a variety of questions.  You can ask yes/no, who, what, where, when, why, which, and how questions.

How to Read To Kids #6: Find Books that are of Great Interest to Your Child

Children are much more likely to enjoy reading if you can find books about their interests.  Take your child to a bookstore and let her choose the books that she wants to read.  Or, if your child has a less common interest, such as caterpillars, go online and see if you can find books about that topic.

How to Read to Kids #7: Read a Lot of Different Types of Books

Make sure you have a wide variety of books including fiction books (made up stories), non-fiction books (books that tell facts about a topic), books about different people, and books with a lot of pictures.  This will help your child understand all of these different styles of reading.

How to Read to Kids #8: Do Activities that are Similar to What Happened in the Book

You could act out scenes from the book or make something that the characters in the book made.  You can also draw pictures of what happened or use play dough to reconstruct a scene.  All of these things will help your child’s retention of what happened in the book.

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