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Active reading with younger children

Parents can strengthen literacy skills with the ABCs of Active Reading.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — 80% of brain growth in children happens before age 3; therefore, it’s important parents make the most of these early years to prepare their children for success in school and life.

One of the ways they can do this is by Reading and Discussing Stories, and while any time reading with a child is valuable, research has found that actively engaging in the story with your child can be more beneficial than just reading the words. This is called Active Reading.

In Active Reading, an adult shares a picture book with a child and provides opportunities to talk about the book. The idea is to use the book as a tool to talk with your child, asking questions, teaching new words and getting the child thinking and talking.

ABCs of Active Reading

A is for Ask Questions – Asking open ended questions gets children more engaged in the book and gets them actively thinking and talking. Use questions that begin with words like what, how, who and why. You can start before you even open the book by asking what the story might be about based on the cover art and title. And once you are reading, ask about what is happening on the page, and what the child thinks might happen next.

B is for Building Vocabulary - Learning new words helps children become stronger readers. You can help them identify new words by asking what the words in the book mean. You might ask about a word in the book and then connect those words with ones they already know. Demonstrating words by using facial expressions, sound effects and movements also helps children understand what words mean.

C is for Connecting to Kids’ World - Relate the book to things children already know to help them learn more about the world around them. For example, if you are reading a book that talks about the weather, relate it to what the current weather is like. Or if the book mentions a trip to the store, recall a memory the child might have of a recent experience at a store.

Parents should try to read with their child at least for a few minutes every day. However, studies have found that Active Reading for 15 minutes just 3 days a week can make a huge difference in a child’s language development and reading ability.

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