Preschoolers connect best to a read-aloud when they are able to act out the story they have just heard. When parents are able to read a story in a fun and interactive way, preschoolers will also develop literacy skills.

Children too young to attend school still can learn what it means to be able to read and write. This development process is called emergent literacy. The ideal read-aloud experience is not only about reading the story, but personalizing the experience so it is enjoyable and memorable. So here are some tips to help personalize the read-aloud experience.

Start By Reading Your Childhood Favorites

A good way to bring out this interactive experience is to provide your preschooler with books you once connected with and still do. A parent’s excitement is infectious in sharing a book he or she loved as a child and can inspire your preschooler.

Choose Stories That Incorporate Tactile Experiences

Preschoolers just love an entertaining read-aloud. In Pete’s a Pizza, Pete’s father places Pete on the kitchen table where he "kneads" and "stretches" Pete.  Then he "flours" Pete with talcum powder and begins to add the various pizza toppings.  He adds tomatoes (checkers) and then he sprinkles on cheese (strips of paper) What will his father do next? Finally, he pops Pizza Pete into the oven (okay, so he really lays him on the couch).  Is the pizza ready to eat? When it is time to slice the pizza, the pizza jumps up and runs away and makes the pizza-maker chase him.

Using active verbs such as “kneading” and “stretching” engage the preschooler in the story experience. When engaged in the “doing,” they actively interact with language which creates positive learning experiences.

Put Some Drama Into It!

Young children especially love it when their parents play a role in acting out a story. When preschoolers hear different (especially funny!) voices and sound effects and expressions, they discover a character – all on their own! Ever notice how preschoolers act out a quirky character? Or say the same things? The more parents manipulate the story using their voices and body language, the more engaged their children will be with the story experience.

Younger preschoolers (three year olds) are not as curious and mentally ready to understand the themes of a read-aloud. Instead of interacting with a story, they prefer to just look at the pictures and listen to the story. But as she or he matures, she or he will begin to ask questions about the story and the characters.  After hearing their favorite story a few times, they will say certain words and phrases over again while delightfully “rediscovering” their favorite character all over again!

Personalizing a read-aloud experience is a great way to engage a child in a story experience while building a special bond between a parent and a child. Preschoolers love to snuggle and enjoy books together knowing it is a personal time for both parent and child to share.