Reading With Little Ones…

I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Petra and her post about 1000 books before kindergarten.  As a reading specialist, I work with many students in grade levels K through 5th, and I can usually tell which children have a rich literacy life at home.  These are the children who have strong vocabulary, who understand story structure, who can make predictions about and connections to the stories we read in school, because they already have so much experience with reading from their lives at home.  These children may not know the specific literary terms that teachers use, but they pick up on those things quickly because they have the understanding of the concepts.  And this is just in kindergarten.

So that is a wonderful concept: reading with the preschool set.  But have you ever tried to read to a squirmy two-year-old?  They seldom want to sit still, let alone listen quietly as you read each word on the page.  For these wonderful little learners, we have to expand the concept of reading just a bit.  Reading may mean skipping pages, saying the “gist” of what is on the page and moving on, or reading the story as your child plays with toys nearby.  With time, a routine will be established, and your child will want to sit and share the book with you.  But in the meantime (or on those not so cooperative days) you will have to adjust and be flexible to get in those reading experiences.

You may wonder if what you are doing is making any kind of difference.  After all, your child doesn’t even seem to be paying any attention!  But there will come a day when you are simply amazed as your child begins to participate in the story, providing some of the words, or pointing to things in the pictures.  I know I felt nearly like crying in wonder when this began while reading with my son, who will be 2 this week.   I took a chance while reading with him, giving him some wait time to say some of the words.  If he was feeling cooperative, he would surprise me with how much he knew of the story.  That is the proof that you are making a difference.  You just have to trust that all those times when you thought he wasn’t listening, he really was.

Here is a short video of my son “reading” to me.  You will see that it is not what we traditionally think of as reading, but for a little boy not yet two, I think it is the beginning of something wonderful.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Petra
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 15:41:41

    Great post, Chris! Here are more videos of what toddler reading looks like. The following link shows videos of my daughter, Kyra, right around her 2nd birthday. I agree that with the younger ones, you have to take their cues when it comes to reading. But when you give them some control, it’s amazing what they can do! Books with only a few words on a page, and where the pictures closely match the text are the best for two year olds to “read.”

    Anyone else have videos or stories you want to share about your kids reading? We’d love to hear from you!


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