Talking about the stories you read together will help your children develop an appreciation for literature. At the same time, you will gain a deeper appreciation for how your children think, what interests them, and what they care about. Consider these tips as you “talk books” with your children.
Stop and chat. Asking your children to name objects or to predict what will happen next or asking them what they think about a character are simple ways to stimulate discussion about stories. By discussing the story, you help your children develop language skills and story comprehension.
Ask questions based on your children’s interests and ages. If you have a toddler, you might ask her to label objects or point to the “Nanna” in the story. If you have a preschooler, you might help her to think about what happened in the story or to link the story to her own life by asking, “Does the Nanna in the story remind you of your Nanna? How?” Ask your older child questions that encourage him to read beyond the plot. Instead of asking, “What happened?” try asking, “Why do you think the author used that word?”, “What part of the story made you think that the dog would be safe in the end?”, or “What makes him a character you like?”
Use stories as a springboard for pretend play. Your children will delight in taking on the roles of favorite characters, whether it’s Winnie the Pooh or Strega Nona. In addition to acting out favorite scenes, they can create new ones of their own. Play will help your children develop skills that are fundamental to reading by stimulating language development and the creative use of words. Moreover, as they create new worlds, they begin to acquire an understanding of characters, the structure of stories, and point of view.
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