World Read Aloud Day takes place on the first Wednesday of every February and this year it’s on the 7th! The day is focused on bringing awareness to the importance of reading out loud and sharing stories. You can celebrate by reading aloud to friends and family, or you can even read your favourite story to someone else! If you are looking for some tips on how to improve your read aloud sessions, from newborns to school age children—we have got you covered! However, before we jump into that, we wouldn’t be a literacy loving library if we didn’t share a few of the many reasons why being read to is so important.
Since children in their infant and toddler years are not yet reading themselves, the best way for them to be introduced to literacy is by what they hear. This is why reading to children cannot come early enough! Now this doesn’t always mean your little ones need to sit for a story time every single day (though it certainly helps), you could incorporate reading aloud as part of your daily activities with your child; read signs that you pass in the car, read labels while grocery shopping or read out a recipe as you prepare meals. With this constant supply of information being provided through reading, you could build your child’s vocabulary, improve their comprehension and active listening, condition them to associate reading with pleasure, and create background knowledge all while becoming their reading role model! That’s also just a small fraction of the benefits of reading aloud, a comprehensive list would turn this blog post into a lengthy essay.
You may have seen the black and white board books in our library and wondered why an illustrator would make a baby book look so plain. There’s actually a purpose for the gothic-looking baby books; these board books are intended for infants and the the black and white images can stimulate the strengthening of their optic nerves. When your baby is a bit older, borrow board books that introduce color, textured objects, sounds, and other interactive elements. When your baby grabs a crinkly part of a page, they will feel the texture and hear the accompanying sound. This tactile-visual experience helps them understand the complicated notion of cause and effect, and it can strengthen a baby’s spatial perception!
With children, including babies, it is important to choose books with repetition through Mother Goose rhymes, familiar songs, and chants. Repetitive books can help your little one to connect key concepts and can strengthen pattern recognition, memory and vocabulary. Books based on Mother Goose rhymes or familiar songs can help children recognize rhyming words, build their vocabulary, develop listening skills, and they are also a great excuse to dance while reading to get those wiggles out! Most importantly, when reading these types of repetitive books children have a chance to chant or sing alongside you and that builds confidence. With your child being able to fully sing or chant a song, and therefore a full book, moving on to the next book is less intimidating!
As your child gets older and you begin to read picture books, or even chapter books together, you can have conversations and questions based around the book you are reading. Before you open the book have your child guess what is going to happen based on the cover. This can pique their interest in the title and may encourage them to think about any background knowledge they have on the book’s topic to make predictions. While you are reading the book ask your child open ended questions about the story or illustrations like:
- Why do you think that character would act that way?
- What do you think will happen next?
- What do you think that character means when they say that?
- Tell me what you were imagining as I read that chapter/page?
- Does this make sense to you?
These open-ended questions help lay the foundational work for reading comprehension. They can help them to better predict, summarize, and determine the important information in the text.
The last tip I’d like to leave you with will instantly improve any book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, picture or chapter book. Read like a kid! Be goofy, make the sound effects, put on a voice for each character and laugh along with your child as you both enjoy the story together. You can make story time come alive by being a big kid with a book in your hand. This increases engagement, bonding with your child, and promotes reading as a fun activity to be shared!
Join us February 7th in the Indigenous Cultural Corner for World Read Aloud Day as we celebrate with three read aloud times throughout the day! At 10:30am & 2:30pm we will be providing a reading for audiences’ newborn to 5 years old. Older children can join us at 4:30 for a book talk and read aloud for their age group! No registration required, just come on in and get cozy for the story.
-Jessie Levesque, Library Services Associate