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Birds-eye view of mother at home reading picture book to young child

Reading Aloud

Tips for Sharing Books

There’s more to sharing a book than reading it aloud to your child. Here are some tips for when and how to share books, and why it is so important.

The joy of sharing books is a gift you can give children from the time they are born. The chanting of nursery rhymes, singing of songs, and reading of stories can comfort and entertain even the youngest child.

The following are easy-to-do tips for sharing books that were developed by members of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

Share books because it…

  • Helps create a special bond between parents and children
  • Introduces children to art through the illustrations
  • Enhances children’s listening skills
  • Introduces children to a wide variety of experiences
  • Helps prepare children for learning to read
  • Improves and enriches the quality of children’s lives
  • Provides fun and enjoyment for children and adults

When to share books

  • Begin when your child is born
  • Set aside a special time each day, such as nap time, bedtime, or after meals
  • Share books when you and your child are in a relaxed mood
  • Limit sharing time if your child becomes fussy or restless
  • Take advantage of “waiting” times to share books — on trips, at the doctors’s office, in line at the grocery store
  • Soothe a child who is sick or cranky

How to share books

  • Find a comfortable place to sit (a rocking chair is wonderful)
  • Recite or sing rhymes from your favorite books
  • Turn off other distractions — television, radio, or stereo
  • Hold the book so your child can see the pages clearly
  • Involve your child by having him or her point out objects, talk about the pictures, or repeat common words
  • Read with expression
  • Vary the pace of your reading — slow or fast
  • Have your child select books to read
  • Reread your child’s favorite books whenever asked

And remember…

  • Be enthusiastic about books
  • Be an example for your child — let her or him see you read books, too
  • Keep a wide selection of reading materials at home
  • Be aware of your child’s reading interests
  • Give books as presents
  • Begin to build a child’s home library
  • Get to know the children’s librarian at your local public library
  • Use your local library regularly and register your child for a library card
Excerpted from: Born to Read: How to Raise a Reader. (2000). American Library Association.
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