Twas the Night Before Christmas will be read to children around the world on Christmas Eve. Even if you are expecting your first child, or have a newborn at home this Christmas, you can begin this holiday tradition now. The developmental benefits of reading aloud to children are numerous and well-documented. There’s no such thing as “too soon,” as even in infancy, reading will help them develop listening skills and get acquainted with your voice.
Here are a few helpful hints for reading aloud to your child.
Establish a routine. Make a commitment to read aloud 15 minutes a day. Pick a cozy place and try and stick with a time, whether it’s before bed, after school, or before nap time. Make sure your child knows that this reading time is special for you as well. Your enthusiasm can breed a mutual enthusiasm for reading.
For toddlers, seek out books that have plenty of repetition. Ask your child to repeat the recurring phrases with you or let them fill in the blank. As they grow older, expose them to plenty of rhyming books, which can help with recognition of sounds in words and memorization.
Introduce the book. Emphasize the name of the author and the title, and draw attention to the cover photo. If you’re continuing a reading from an earlier time, remind your audience what happened previously. Or make a point to ask them what happened most recently in the book.
Pre-read the book, so you can omit passages that might be too long or difficult to keep their attention span.
As the narrator, bring the text to life by giving different voices to different characters. Put your own unique stamp on the storytelling. Heighten the drama by changing your pace, volume and emphasis.
Don’t be concerned if your children ask you to read their favorite book to them over and over. Your reading time together should be fun for them, and the repetition encourages vocabulary skills.