Reading with Preschoolers
Reading becomes a fun game for 3- and 4-year-olds as they become more active participants in story hour. Picture books are ideal for preschoolers, who get even more meaning out of illustrations.
What They Learn
Your child is learning new words and phrases at a feverish pace and beginning to construct longer sentences, so how you read to her is important. "Instead of just reading the text straight through, ask a lot of open-ended questions about the story," says Dr. McCartney. If you're reading Where the Wild Things Are, ask, "Why is Max so angry with his mom?" This challenges your child to strengthen his comprehension skills; he has to contribute to the conversation, not simply give one-word answers or point to a picture in response. Preschoolers also start to develop phonological awareness -- the ability to listen to the sounds in words. "Rhyming books are great because they playfully capitalize on this skill," says Dr. McCartney. "For example, when children read Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss, they notice the difference between the 'h' sound and the 'p' sound at the beginning of the word."
Make Reading Fun
- Get your child a library card. Going to the library is a fun adventure. Kids love dropping books into the return slot and making new selections.
- Be a social butterfly. Check out storytime at the bookstore or library. Your child will get a kick out of listening to a book with a group of kids.
- Choose a character series. Children this age become attached to certain characters, so don't pass up the chance to get her interested in more books. If she loved Max's quest for red-hot marshmallow squirters in Rosemary Wells's Bunny Cakes, chances are she'll want to see him get a makeover in Ruby's Beauty Shop.
- Accept his literary taste. Don't be bummed if all he'll read is Bob the Builder books. What matters most is that kids are reading, and books based on their favorite TV shows are fine.