Studies show that reading to young children is one of the most important investments a parent can make in their child's school success. Here are tips from Reading is Fundamental on why to do it, how to do it, and which books make the best fit for preschool children.

Read aloud so preschoolers can:

  • Continue to associate reading with warm, pleasant feelings; learn about words and language; and expand listening skills.
  • Pay attention to the language of books and begin to notice how it differs from spoken language.
  • Listen to the sounds in words and notice how some are the same and some are different.
  • Build their vocabularies with words they understand and can use.
  • Gain background knowledge about a variety of topics.
  • Talk about the characters, settings, and plot and relate them to their own lives.
  • Learn more about print concepts, such as, print is spoken words written down, the letters in words are written in a certain order, and written words are separated by spaces.

Choose books that preschoolers like:

  • Preschoolers feel good about their growing skills and accomplishments. As they learn new concepts and self-help skills, read stories about young children who have similar experiences.
  • Preschoolers have good memories. Read stories with simple plots children can retell in their own words (to themselves, a stuffed animal, or a friend) and pattern books with repetitive and predictable rhymes, phrases, and story lines that let children participate.
  • Preschoolers are building their listening skills and attention spans. Read longer picture books and begin chapter books that last for several sessions.
  • Preschoolers are curious. Read information books with facts, explanations, and new people, places, and things.
  • Preschoolers know a lot about their own world. Read books that let them use their knowledge to understand books that introduce new topics, facts, and ideas.
  • Preschoolers have vivid imaginations. Read folk tales and books with animal characters that think and talk like humans.
  • Preschoolers are learning about the sounds of letters and words. Read books with rhymes and alliteration.

Try these read-aloud tips:

  • Introduce the book: read the title, author, and illustrator; look at the cover; talk about what the book might be about; suggest things to look and listen for.
  • Run your finger under the text, while reading.
  • Answer questions related to the book; save other questions for later.
  • Talk about the story during and after a read-aloud session.
  • Use information and reference books to answer children's questions.
  • Ask children to look closely at the pictures to help them understand the story and make predictions about what might happen next.
  • Repeat interesting words and rhymes while reading a book and at a later time.
  • Pause and wait so children can say the word that ends a repetitive or predictable phrase.
  • Stop to ask thinking questions: "What might happen next? Where did he go? Why did she do that?"
  • Follow up on the story. Invite a child to talk; draw or paint; pretend to be one of the characters; and so on