Read to Kids to Promote Language Development!

To stimulate your child’s language, read books and tell stories to your kids. Foster a love for reading by including books and storytelling in your daily routine, every single day!

1. Promote language by reading books to your child

Reading is one of the best activities that you can do with children of any age. Reading books and talking about them helps children develop language skills. 

Reading helps children learn how to: 

  • listen well 
  • understand the meaning of new words
  • ask and answer questions 
  • have a more diverse vocabulary
  • solve problems 
  • become aware of print (how oral and written language are connected; those scribbles are words)
  • use their imagination
  • and much more!

2. Start today: it is never too early or too late to read to kids.

Read with your child from the day they are born. Even babies love picture books. Start today if you haven’t yet started to read books to your child. It is never too late to start.

Daily reading will create a love of reading for years to come Reading books every day promotes the development of strong speech and language skills. Remember to keep it an enjoyable activity for everyone.

When choosing a book for your baby or toddler, look for:

  • Strong and sturdy books that won’t tear easily or soft cloth books that your child can chew.
  • Touch and feel books that will let your child participate and encourage communication.
  • Simple and bright pictures. Less is more! Simple pictures allow your child to focus for a longer period of time.
  • Books that include your child’s favourite things such as cars, animals, and especially other babies and children!

For your preschool child, choose:

  • Books with longer stories. Books with simple words are useful in helping children to start reading on their own.
  • Stories that your child can guess or imagine the end of the story for.
  • All kinds of books: start with books the child likes. Tell the story simply. When the child has mastered the book, add new words or more complex words to the story and use longer sentences.
  • The same storybooks. Repetition is important for learning new words. Your child can gain confidence and take turns telling parts of the story on their own. Start by asking him to complete certain sentences (e.g. “Once upon a time there was a bear who loved ____”).

3. Get your kids ready for school with books.

You can help children do well in school by reading to them from an early age Children exposed to books early on do have stronger language and do better with reading later on. Children who are good readers do better in school. Children are NEVER too young or too old to be read to.

Children who enjoy books and get good support from home tend to do better with reading and writing when they get to school. It’s never too early, nor too late, to start promoting a child’s love of reading. Preschoolers, even babies, learn a lot when you read to them. Here’s how to make the most of your time with your kids:

Read, read, read. Reading to kids every day is the best way for you to foster the love of books and of reading books. The more often you do it, the better. If you read 1 book a day starting at birth, you will have read 1825 books by the time your child is 5 years of age.

Be interactive. When reading a book together, ask questions, point to pictures, and talk about the story. Follow your child’s interest when looking at a book together. Change it up: use different voices, add some special effects (aaaaahhhhh, bam, pow). Your little ones will simply love you and book reading.

Make sounds and rhyming stand out. Rhyming and talking about sounds in words link oral language to written language. Nursery rhymes (e.g. Itsy Bitsy Spider) and rhyming books (e.g. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, A cat in the hat) help children learn to recognize the different sounds of words.

Talk with your child every day in everyday life routines. Once the book is closed, talk about it together. Bring it up in your daily routines. Children learn language when they hear language and when they get a chance to practice it with their most favourite person: YOU the parent, the family member, the caregiver, the friend.

By Roxane Bélanger, M.O.A., SLP-C, Reg. CALSPO
Speech Language Pathologist, First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa and Renfrew County

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