Books are a wonderful way to engage with new vocabulary, themes, and concepts at any age. In honor of World Book Day on March 1st, this month's blog will focus on how to use books to support your child's language development from birth to school age.
Use books to develop your child's joint attention skills.
- Joint attention occurs when two people share interest in something and both people are aware that they are experiencing something together.
- This skill should emerge around 9 months of age and be solid by 18 months.
- You can work on joint attention by engaging your child with books, pointing to pictures, and looking back and forth between the book and your child.
- For example, point at a picture, say something about it, and look back at your child. If your child doesn't demonstrate joint attention, put yourself and the book directly in their line of sight and try again. Reward them with praise when they do engage with you and the book!
Use books to develop vocabulary and basic grammar skills.
- At this age, children are constantly picking up new vocabulary words and starting to combine words into 2-3 word phrases.
- Take turns talking about the pictures in the book. You don't have to read every word on every page!
- Model simple, yet accurate, sentence forms. For example, "The doggie is running," instead of "Doggie running."
- After you "read" one page, turn the page (or let your child turn it) and wait. Try not to ask questions or point to any specific pictures. See what happens when you give your child the opportunity to share what they are thinking!
- Let your child tune into their interests. It's okay if they don't follow the story, as long as they are having fun and describing what they see.
Use books to help your child with their narrative language. Narrative language refers to a child's ability to tell stories with appropriate organization,
- Read the book once, then ask your child to tell YOU the story.
- Allow them to hold the book and turn the pages. It's okay if they skip some pages, as long as they are engaged in the book.
- Encourage them to use the pictures to help them tell the story.
- The most important elements of any story include the characters, setting, plot, and feelings. If your child misses any of these, feel free to chime in or gently ask clarifying questions in order to bring their attention to these details.
- Pay attention to the sequencing in your child's story. The events should follow a sequential order
Summarizing and paraphrasing are important skills for school-age children who transition from "learning to read" to "reading to learn" around grade 3.