Read and Discuss Stories


The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and to do well in school. It is never too early to begin reading! Stories expose children to words and ideas that they would not otherwise experience. Books teach children to use their imaginations. What they learn about people, places, and things can be important building blocks to later life success. For both parents and children, times together with books form fond and lasting memories.

Watch the video to see the everyday ways that families read and discuss stories.

Please click here to view the Spanish version of this video.

READ REGULARLY Make book time part of your baby’s daily routine.They won’t understand for a while, but that’s fine. What is important is that they hear your words, see the pictures, and start to develop positive feelings about books.

KEEP IT SIMPLE If you can, choose books that are sturdy, short, and have simple, colorful pictures.

SNUGGLE UP Hold your child in your lap as you read so they can see the pictures and feel cozy.

DESCRIBE THE PICTURES With infants, you don’t need to read the words on the pages. Instead, describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing. Point to the page when you do this.

SPEAK WITH EXPRESSION Use an exaggerated voice to make it more interesting!

ACTIVELY INVOLVE THEM As your baby develops coordination, involve them more in the reading experience. Let them hold the book or turn the pages.

FOLLOW THEIR LEAD Let your child guide the reading experience. When they start to loose interest, try another book or stop. Not being forced to keep going will keep them excited about reading!

COMMIT TO READ EVERY DAY Try to set aside 15 minutes every day to read together. Get books from your local library.

WARM UP Before you open the book, check out the cover. Read the title. Look at the picture. Ask your child what she thinks the book might be about.

READ AND DISCUSS Your toddler will learn the most if you have discussions while you read. Respond to their comments and questions about the story. Ask questions that get them thinking. “Why is the boy sad?” “What do you think is going to happen next?”

HELP THEM FOLLOW ALONG Point to the words and pictures. This helps your toddler understand how reading works. For example, we read from left to right on the page.

USE EXPRESSION Use your best reader’s voice! Trying different voices for different characters is fun.

ENJOY THE PICTURES Talk about what is happening in the pictures. You can talk about the colors and shapes you see or what the characters are doing.

DON’T BE TOO SERIOUS Make it fun! Your toddler may want to turn the page before you’ve finished it. If they can’t sit still for the whole book, that’s okay.

SET A GREAT EXAMPLE If toddlers see grownups reading and know that they enjoy it, they will learn that reading is a fun and important part of life.

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