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Ready to Read: Talk

Ready to Read: Talk

How Talking Helps Your Child Get Ready to Read

Talking to and with your young child is an essential part of helping them be ready to read. Babies learn their first words by listening to the people around them speak, and that’s also how toddlers increase their vocabulary.

Talking is how children begin to learn sentence structure so that they know how to put words together to articulate more complex – or specific – ideas.

And they do all of this simply by paying close attention to the world around them; no formal lessons are needed!

The more a child intuitively understands how language works – and the larger their spoken vocabulary – the easier it will be for them to learn to read.

Incorporate talking

You can nurture this development by incorporating talking into all of your interactions with your child, even if they’re still an infant! Narrate what you’re doing during daily activities like changing their diaper, giving them a bath, or feeding them. If you go for a walk or play together, talk about what you are seeing, hearing, and doing.

Use rich vocabulary when talking with your child. Don’t worry that they might not understand big words; context will help them figure it out. You could also say something in multiple ways to give them more clues about the meaning of complex words or unfamiliar phrases.

Model sentence-building by taking the words or fragments your child may say and turning them into sentences. For example, if your child points to a cat and says, “Cat!” you could say, “Yes! That’s a cat.” You could even be more specific by including the color or type of cat or describing what the cat is doing: “Yes! The cat is napping in the sun.” This affirms their initial observation and builds on it to include more detail

Having back-and-forth conversations with your child is also important. This is how they learn the power of words and how speaking can be used to communicate and connect. When you ask your child a question, be sure to pause and give them lots of time to respond. It’s hard work to remember new words and figure out how to form the right sounds!

Building literacy skills

Babies aren’t going to reply, of course, but given enough time they will probably respond in some way. They may point, sign, babble, or make a face in response to your questions. Affirm that by narrating what they do and offering the corresponding words.

Talking to and with your young child is an easy way to build literacy skills into your daily life. 

Reading interactive books with your child is another way to make both reading AND talking fun! Invite your child to answer the questions in the book or weigh in on what the characters should (or shouldn’t!) do. Here are some recommendations to get you started:

Image from Canva

By Carolyn L., Youth Services Library Assistant

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