Pediatric Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapists Inspiring Play

Story Time Series: Reading Tips to Promote Language Development

Story Time Series: Reading Tips to Promote Language Development

It’s Part 1 of our September Story Time Series! Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing some tips to promote language development when reading with little ones.

Part One: Have a Discussion

Part 1 of our series is all about having a discussion while you read, using the following strategies:

  1. Go Beyond the Text: Don’t feel like you need to stick to the words on the page! Get chatty about what you see in the pictures and what you think might happen next; this allows your child’s curiosity and imagination to flourish!
  2. Let Your Child Take Over: After you introduce a topic or idea, allow your child to take the lead and see where the conversation goes! They may ask thoughtful questions or present new ideas for you to explore together.
  3. Use Open-Ended Sentence Starters: Starting sentences with statements like, “I wonder,” and, “Maybe” presents an opportunity for your child to expand on the ideas you’ve proposed, and express more detailed, elaborate thoughts.
  4. Discuss Final Thoughts: After reading, review and highlight specific events from the book, like favorite parts and moments that you still wonder or have questions about. This will encourage your child to re-tell/recall events, think critically, and infer/predict!

Here, Miss Shawn (our SLP) and her sweet friend Ren are having a discussion while reading the book “Little Grey Donkey” using Vooks!

Scroll to the right to watch.

Story time series part 2

Part Two: Keep it Fun!

Part 2 our September Story Time Series focuses on how to keep reading light and fun, using the following strategies:

  1. Avoid Quizzing: Making a child feel “tested” while reading takes the fun out of it! Focus on commenting more than questioning. It’s not wrong to ask questions, as questions can help further your child’s understanding and use of language, but when you do ask questions, try to be playful!
  2. Make Observations & Allow Wait Time: A great way to keep reading casual and fun while also encouraging your child to talk is to simply make observations by pointing to pictures and saying, “Look,” then waiting to see what your child notices and discusses.
  3. Be Silly… and Get Little Bodies Moving: Don’t be afraid to get silly with it! More giggles = more fun = more love of reading. And if your kiddo needs to move, let them! Encourage movement breaks and show your kiddo how to physically act out events from the story.
  4. Model, Don’t Correct: Let your child know that it’s safe to share their thoughts and ideas; help them feel that what they’re saying is important and that you care about the content of their message. Instead of pointing out errors, simply model for them by rephrasing what they said (e.g., Child: “Him goed home”; Parent: “Yes, he went home!”).
  5. Connect the Story to Real Life: Making real life connections makes the story even more meaningful for your kiddo, and presents opportunities to have conversations that extend beyond the book!

Scroll to the right to watch Miss Shawn and Coco have a blast while reading Pete the Cat books!

Part Three: Let Your Child “Read” to You!

Story Time Series 3

Part 3 highlights the following benefits of simply letting little ones “read” to us:

  1. Strengthens Narrative Skills: Being able to describe stories and past events is an important skill for your little one to learn! When your child has the opportunity to “read” to you, they are practicing how to organize a sequence of events in a meaningful, cohesive way. They’ll begin to use ordinal language like first, next, then, and they’ll learn to focus on main characters and key events!
  2. Increases Confidence & Boosts Imagination: Your kiddo will have many opportunities as they enter their early school years to present for their peers; give them time to practice in a safe, supportive environment, provide plenty of encouraging feedback, and let their imagination run wild by responding positively and with excitement to any story they choose to tell!
  3. (&4) Builds Overall Language Skills: Any reading activity will naturally expand your kiddo’s vocabulary and overall language skills. When they are in charge of telling you the story, they’ll come across pictures of new objects/people/places, practice using new sentence structures, and ask for your help then learn from you as you model for them and expand on their thoughts and ideas!

Swipe to see our sweet friend Ava reading The Cool Bean from @harperkids to her mommy and little sister, Mila!

Part 4: Bring the Story to Life!

Part 4 is all about how we can bring the story to life using the following strategies:

  1. Get into Character: Don’t be afraid to get silly! Engage little ones by using fun voices and facial expressions – your little one may even try to imitate you, which is a wonderful learning opportunity!
  2. Act it Out: When you physically “act it out,” you are increasing your child’s understanding of new vocabulary (e.g., action words, adjectives, emotions, etc.), and helping them to the follow along with events from the story!
  3. Grab some Props: Is the story about dinosaurs? Invite some dinosaur figurines to the party and include them in your storytelling! This addition of real life objects can help to increase understanding of the story and also keep little ones engaged while you read.
  4. Talk to the Pictures: “Talking” to the characters and other pictured items in the book makes the experience more interactive, and also provides the perfect opportunity for you to model language that your kiddo may imitate!

Watch the IGTV below to see our mama friend Maria, with the help of her cuties, share her acting talents to show us how to bring Knuffle Bunny to life!

Perform activities recommended by Walk, Talk, Play at your own risk with appropriate adult supervision provided. Walk, Talk, Play is not responsible for any injury caused while performing these play activities. 

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