How to Read to Young Children

Question: I read to my young 2-year-old son several times a day. I keep hearing that you should ask questions and interact with the text. I am puzzled about how to go about this. Could you give me some suggestions? - Need to Know

Answer: Children's books usually have very colorful pictures. These pictures can be a starting point for conversations with your child. You can ask questions like these:

Begin by looking at the pictures together, and then ask:

  • -Do you see the car? Point to the car.
  • -Do you see the bicycles? Point to them.
  • -How many bicycles do you see? You can count them together on your fingers.  

Next, start to talk about the pictures.

  • -Does Ella the elephant have ears? Show me her ears.
  • -What is the elephant doing?
  • -Does Leo the lion have a tail? Show me his tail.
  • -What is the lion doing
  • -What sound does a lion make?

As your son gets older and closer to 3, you can begin helping him learn letter sounds and names. Here are some suggestions for you to try as you read a story to him:

  • -Say, see this big letter. It is called "T." You should point to the letter and say its sound. Next, say: "Tom" and "toy" both begin with "T." How about "table," does it begin with the "T" sound?
  • -Children like to know the first letter of their names. So you may want to start with these letters.