When we’re reading to a baby who is unfamiliar with most of the words and pictures in books, we tend to naturally stray from the text, pointing out the objects that we see on the pages. As kids get a little older and already know the names of everything in the illustrations, it’s easy for us to just stick to the words on the page. Adding your own commentary and discussion, however, can be really helpful in developing vocabulary and narrative skills, both of which are extremely important in getting your child ready to read.
When you’re reading, talk about the pictures and describe what’s going on. If you can, relate it to something familiar to your child. For example, if it’s a zoo book, talk about a time you and your child were at the zoo together. Give your child time to respond and add his commentary. Ask him to make predictions about what will happen next in the book.
To boost vocabulary, talk about any new words you may come across in the book and define each new word, rather than replace it with one that your child already knows. This is also a great opportunity to use new vocabulary words to describe objects or events in the book.
No matter what age your child is, spending a little extra time with a book–reading more than just the words on the page–can have a huge impact!