Building Literacy by Reading Aloud with Children

Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 in All Posts, Language Literacy Communication | 0 comments

Happy Sunday!

One of the strengths of Two Wishes Child Care is our strong interest in and support of early literacy. Jen has been an avid devourer of literature from the age of four – she even has a letter floating around the house somewhere from her first grade teacher Mrs. Ratcliffe commending Jen on the discussion they had about Little Women.

Our daily story time is an important part of our program. During our story time, we explore the weekly theme through books, engage in social conversation with each other about the story, work on comprehension and vocabulary, increase phonological awareness (as the child hears and understands our language), and build interest in literacy arts.

Criss-cross applesauce, hands in your lap. Bodies to your beanbag. Bubbles in your mouth!

Children learn patience as they sit in a circle “criss cross applesauce, hands in your lap, bodies to your beanbags, bubbles in your mouth!” They build skill in maintaining interest and engagement in a single activity and in managing control of their own emotions, actions, and behaviors, while they learn the academic patterns that will be important in the future during this journey to school readiness.

Children reading to themselves during quiet time.

Children reading to themselves during quiet time.

We believe that it is also important for trusted adults outside of our program to read to their children. Children should learn that reading is a part of life everywhere – not just in school-like settings.

One of the easier ways to integrate reading out loud at home is to link it to a specific time. Perhaps you read for 20 minutes at bedtime or even over breakfast. Maybe it’s an after-dinner activity. Maybe you read during bath time!

If your children aren’t used to this routine, you could start with one book and then gradually work your way up to two or three. You could start with picture books and then move to chapter books, reading one chapter a night, or even one section of a chapter per night. If your routine includes reading the news over breakfast, you could read a developmentally-appropriate article to the child and then discuss it. While at the grocery store, read the signs out loud, pointing to them as you go. If you need more ideas, there are some great ideas for reading specifically with infants, toddlers, and primary school children in this article.

Sometimes it can seem intimidating to read out loud to children or awkward. Some children lose interest quickly. If that happens, don’t worry about forcing the interaction. Either put the book down or keep reading to them while they wander the room playing with toys. Build up to sustained interest over time. Make the reading itself a ritual by having a special cup of herbal tea during reading time, or cuddling together, or doing a loved activity immediately after story time.

It also helps to build interest in reading if you use a dialogic reading technique. This post by Reading Rockets explains what dialogic reading is and how to implement the technique. As you read, you prompt the child to discuss something on the page. When the child answers the prompt, you respond to the child and then expand on the child’s answer. Then you touch back on the initial prompt that you gave. For example, when looking at a book about a garden, you could say, “That garden is covered in snow! Do you think they’re ready to plant?” The child may say, “No!” You could respond, “That’s right! It’s still winter and it’s too cold to plant.”

The YouTube channel, ABC Avenue, also has some great examples of how to read aloud to children in an engaging way. With practice, this becomes very easy!

How do you read aloud with your children?


  1. Reading Aloud with Children of All Ages by Derry Koralek, NAEYC
  2. Everyday Steps to Reading and Writing at NAEYC for Families
  3. Read Together to Support Early Literacy at NAEYC for Families
  4. Minnesota Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Introduction to Language, Literacy, and Communications
  5. Dialogic Reading on YouTube by Get Ready to Read
  6. Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers by Grover J. Whitehurst
  7. ABC Avenue on YouTube