By Eileen Nelson, M.A.
Early Childhood Specialist
Minnesota Department of Education
Regular time spent reading with your preschooler builds not only your bond with your child but also ensures that your preschooler is prepared to start school.
Enjoy time together with a book so your preschooler remains excited by books. This is solid preparation for a lifetime of reading.
Reading together gives you insight into your preschooler's rapidly developing interests. Your child may show an interest in both fiction and nonfiction books. Both are good sources of new concepts and new vocabulary words.
If your preschooler watches television, be sure to set aside time away from the television to read with your child. A lifetime habit of reading offers your child years of enjoyment and knowledge.
Read together every day. If you read to your preschooler when he or she was an infant and a toddler, continuing that experience will lay a firm foundation for the future. If you haven't read to your child before, this is the time to start -- it is never too late for both you and your child to reap the rewards of time spent together reading.
Share your lap or snuggle close with your preschooler while you read. This helps to make reading a pleasurable and fun experience for both you and your child.
Link books to information for your child. If your child is interested in cars, spiders or dinosaurs, show your preschooler how much information is available in books. Nonfiction books with colorful photographs intrigue many children. Learn together and watch your child's vocabulary grow.
Point out words in a story and occasionally run your finger below the words as you read a book. Your child may begin to recognize words or ask you to identify a word. Encourage this interest by directing attention to words on signs or packages when you are shopping or traveling.
Your preschooler may want you to reread certain titles. Having a favorite book is wonderful experience and perhaps your preschooler can also tell the story in the book to you.
Ask your preschooler what they think will happen next in a book. Answer any questions your child has while reading; conversations about stories and related information expand vocabulary and improve understanding. What feels like interruption can be a rich source of conversation for you and your preschooler.
Your preschooler will enjoy the library. Getting a library card and selecting books to read will be a special event for your child. Check out preschool story times in the library or local book store.
Model reading in your home. Read books, magazines and newspapers; anything that shows your preschooler that you value reading. Remember, your preschooler wants nothing more than to grow up and be like you.