Nyack Basics: Read and Discuss Stories
Why is this important?
Reading turns kids into confident thinkers. Make books a regular part of your relationship from the very beginning. With infants, point at the pictures and speak with excitement. With toddlers, just make it fun.
Use voices, point to items in the story, or do dialogic reading. In dialogic reading, the adult helps the child become the teller of the story. The adult becomes the listener by asking questions about the book for the child to answer. Dialogic reading is just children and adults having a conversation about a book.
You can help children remember more about a story by:
- asking "what" questions
- asking open-ended questions
- expanding upon what the child says
- Read regularly and with expression. Your baby won’t understand for a while, but that’s fine. They will hear your voice, see the pictures, and develop good feelings about books.
- Keep it simple. Board books with hard covers and thick pages are made especially for babies. Choose books that are short and have simple, bright pictures.
- Snuggle up. Hold your baby in your lap so they feel cozy and can see the pictures.
- Involve them. They might want to hold the book, turn the pages, or pat the pictures. They might even chew on the book. It’s all part of learning!
- Describe the pictures. It’s not important to read all—or any—of the words. Point to the pictures and describe the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing.
- Follow their lead. When they start to lose interest, try another book or stop. Short periods of reading will work best.
Books for Infants
- Have a routine. Try to read together every day. Before bed is a great time to read, but choose a time of day that works best for your family.
- Warm up. Before you open the book, check out the cover. Read the title. Look at the pictures. Ask your child what they think the story is about.
- Change your voice. Try different voices for different characters.
- Help them follow along. Point to the words and pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing.
- Ask questions. “What do you think will happen next?” or “Why is the girl happy?” Respond to your child’s comments and questions. Show your interest in their ideas.
- Don’t be too serious. Your toddler may want to turn the page before you have finished reading it. If they can’t sit still for the whole book, that’s ok.
- Re-read. Toddlers learn through repetition, so it is normal when they want to read a favorite book over and over. Notice how proud they feel when they master the story. But try for variety too, because new books offer new things to see and learn.