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Video length: 2:55
Very young children are likely to engage with books when adults model and encourage interaction during the reading experience. Several strategies can make these interactions more successful. The two dads in this clip model several useful strategies that will encourage very young children to begin to engage with the process of reading books.
In this clip, the two dads model several ways to encourage very young children to begin to engage with the process of reading books.
- Listen for Opportunities. A love for books and reading is better cultivated than forced. In this clip, 18-month-old Paloma signals her interest in books and reading by saying, “Da Da, read it.”
- Get Comfortable. It is apparent that all four participants in this book-reading experience feel comfortable and safe. Children associate their first reading experiences with the comfort of being held on the lap of a loved one.
- Use Wordless Books. Wordless books lend themselves to interaction about the story. The dads in this clip selected a wordless board book.
- Select Books with Familiar Settings. Parents can increase participation by very young children by selecting settings with which the children are familiar. In this clip, the dads and children enjoy a story about Carl, a big black dog, and his adventures at home.
- Relate the Book to the Child’s Own Experiences. When children identify with the characters in the book, they are likely to be more interested in the story. In this clip, Paloma’s dad explains, “And now they’re just having a feast. Peanut butter, and ice cream, milk, and all kinds of good things.” He then asks Olin, “Would you want to eat all that stuff?”
- Model the Practice of Noticing and Thinking about What Is Read. Because there are two dads engaged in this book-reading experience, they are able to model how to carry on a dialogue about a book. For example, Olin’s dad says, “Look at the baby’s face on that picture. It’s got goop all over it.” Paloma's dad then suggests, “The baby could use a little cleaning up.” “Ahhhh, good idea,” responds Olin’s dad.
- Describe What Is Happening in the Book. Describing helps children to understand that the illustrations are interrelated and tell a story. For instance, in this clip, Olin’s dad says, “Look, Carl’s got soap in his mouth.”
- Ask Open-ended Questions. Open-ended questions can focus the child’s attention on important aspects of the story and provide the child with opportunities to share his own interpretation of the story. For example, in this clip, Paloma’s dad asks, “What are they about to do now?” What’s that behind there?”
- Allow Adequate Time for the Children to Respond. It often takes very young children longer to think things through than it does their older peers. Adults are likely to get a more thoughtful answer if they wait at least 4 seconds for the child to answer.
- Share Your Enjoyment with Children. Children are likely to enjoy things that they observe their parents enjoying. The two dads in this clip repeatedly express their enjoyment of the story through their facial expressions, the tone of their voices, and their words. For example, they chuckle about the fact that the characters in the story prepare a feast of grapes, milk, chocolate syrup, peanut butter, and ice cream.
- Acknowledge Children’s Contributions with Enthusiasm. When children’s contributions are warmly welcomed, they are more likely to make further contributions. For example, in this clip, Paloma’s dad asks, “What do you see in this picture, Olin and Paloma?” Olin cheerfully states, “Baby’s sleepin’ in a crib.” Paloma’s dad acknowledges his shared understanding by enthusiastically repeating Olin’s statement. “Baby’s sleeping in the crib. Yah!”
- Add Sound Effects. Adding sound effects can help children understand that the illustrations in the book represent real things. For instance, Olin’s dad makes the sound of the blow drier operating, and Olin later identifies it by saying, “Der’s a machine.” Olin’s dad says, “Yah, that blow drier, Olin?”
Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children
Related IEL Tip Sheets
IEL Tip Sheet: Sharing Books with Your Baby
- IEL Tip Sheet: Sharing Books with Your Toddler
- IEL Tip Sheet: The Gift of Words: Reading and Games
- IEL Tip Sheet: Using Predictable Books with Young Children