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We would like to say a big thank you to Andrew Reniers for being our first ever guest blogger. He’s an English teacher and he wrote this article on how to read storybooks like a professional. His goal is to help parents teach their children English through story books, nursery rhymes, expressions and more. If you keen to know more, do check out his blog @ Learn English Storybook or you’ll be missing out otherwise.
How to read storybooks effectively to your children
I’ve been an English teacher for over twelve years, and a parent of two little munchkins for five. One of the many lessons I have learned over this time is the importance storybooks and reading to your children. As teachers and parents, I’m positive that we all read to our children. But do you know how to read effectively to your child?
Why do we need to read storybooks to our children?
Before we get into how to read more effectively, let’s remind ourselves why it’s so important to read to our children.
- Children whose parents read to them when they were younger do better at school and have higher literacy skills.
- Reading expands their vocabulary and improves how they understand language.
- Storybooks inspire creativity and sparks imagination in children.
- Spending time together reading, strengthens the bond and relationships parents and children have.
- Reading storybooks connect children to the world around them.
- It cultivates a love of reading in your children.
8 Ways to Read Storybooks More Effectively.
Now that we have familiarized ourselves with why we read storybooks to our children, let’s look at eight ways we can do it better.
- Let them pick the book.
Your child will like the story much more if they can choose it themselves. It will give them a feeling of control and power over their activity. Plus, it gives you a better understanding of what they are interested in.
Now if your child is like mine, he will want to read the same story on cars every night. There are ways to get around this. Read the book they want and have them choose an additional book or books.
- Ask questions before you read.
Now that they have chosen their book to take a minute to look at the cover together. Read the title. Look at the picture. Get them to make predictions about the book. Ask questions about the characters. Use this time to introduce the story. Here is an example from the storybook “The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur” lesson.
- What do you think the story is about? Dinosaurs. Really, you think the story will be about dinosaurs. That’s great.
- Do you like dinosaurs? Yes, I do. Yeah, dinosaurs are really neat.
- Are they big or small? They are big. You are right. A lot of dinosaurs are big, but some of them are small too.
- Do you have a favorite dinosaur? <answers will vary> Very good, that’s a great choice.
- Study the pictures.
Once you have started reading take a moment to look at the pictures. Ask them some questions on vocabulary. Point to them. Describe what you see. Have them describe what they see. Use adjectives like colors or feelings.
- Use character voices.
Liven up your reading and help create interest by using different voices for the characters. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a professional actor. You child will love the different voices no matter how terrible you think they are. So, don’t be shy. Here is an example of how to use different voices from the storybook “The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur.”
- Ask questions after each page.
After each page asks a few questions to check for comprehension and understanding. Use open-ended questions like who, what when, where, why, and how. These questions encourage your child to say more than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’
- Expand the child’s response.
Once your child has answered your question, expand on what they said. Be positive, say that they are right and rephrase their answer. Here is an example of how to do this effectively from the storybook “Just Me and My Brother”.
- Where will they go? The apple orchard.Yes, they will go to the apple orchard where the farmers grow farms.
- What will they do there? Pick apples.Very good. They will pick lots of apples together and Little Critter will help him climb up.
- Connect the story to personal experiences.
Talk about the experiences from the story and relate them to your child’s own experiences. This will help them relate to the characters and bring the story to life.
- Have fun
Perhaps the most important tip, the most obvious, and sometimes overlooked tip. Have fun. Reading should be fun for both you and your child. Be enthusiastic. Your child can see your enthusiasm in your eyes, your voice and body language. Reading together will bring you closer to each other. If they have fun, they will want to read more. So, have fun together.
Read about dialogic reading:
Reading out loud to children:
About Learn English Storybook
Hi, thanks for reading my article. My name is Andrew Reniers. I’m an English teacher in South Korea and parent of two little munchkins. I have taught English for over 12 years at all different levels. From kindergarten to University. If you liked this article you can find more from me at my blog www.englishstorybook.com. My goal is to help parents teach their children English through story books, nursery rhymes, expressions and more.