Reading with Young Children

… “I want my 16 month old daughter to enjoy books but when I try to read to her, she isn’t interested. Is it too early to introduce books?” – Elizabeth

Great question, Elizabeth. We receive a lot of emails about this very issue. As you know, board books with simple pictures are available for children your daughter’s age. They serve well for when she is alone and wants to hold it without tearing the pages. She is learning many pre-reading skills already such as left-to-right progression, where the book title is placed, and that words and illustrations correspond.

When you read with her, however, she may find it more interesting if you choose a book with more detailed illustrations – something with characters she is familiar with or a more intricate plot. You won’t read the story per se, – not word for word – but you will be talking with her about the illustrations and perhaps later on, the story line. Many books labeled for 3 or 4 year-olds will fit this category. When you go to the library, let her pick out the books that interest her. She may be attracted to the picture of an animal, a cartoon character she can identify, or a child in a funny dilemma. Remembering that one of the reading skills an older child learns is how to interpret picture cues (or clues) in order to anticipate what will happen next, learning to pay attention to visual detail now builds an excellent foundation for literacy later.