The first step in reading aloud to create a pleasant environment that helps associate reading with pleasure. With that done, it’s time to start reading to your baby and establish a consistent reading routine at home.
Start with the cover. Point to the book cover, read the title aloud, point to the picture and ask a question. such as “Isn’t that a cool picture of a dog?” or “What do you think this book is about?”Point out the author and illustrator. It doesn’t matter if your child doesn’t seem to understand a word at this time. He’s getting a feel for the process and the elements of a book.
Talk. Ease your child into reading by starting off with a conversation. Ask questions, pause, say something on the lines of “Let’s find out,” point to pictures and keep the process interactive. Observe what your child is looking at and talk to him about the object of his attention.
Make music. Who says reading is just reading? Why not sing a book to your child? Vary your tone and pitch, use different voices for the characters in a book, let your expressions do some of the talking. Reading aloud, in essence, is a private play you put on for your child’s pleasure. Go to town with your voice.
Smile. Your child is watching! Relax. Let your child see you having fun as you read. That’s the first clue that tells him ,”Hey, this reading thing is actually fun!” Your reactions and response to the book are bound to rub off on your child, so keep them positive. Even if there are other things on your mind, try to forget about them and truly relax when you’re reading to your child. It also helps if your child can see you and other grown-ups reading for pleasure every now and then. This sends him the signal that reading is indeed something you do for pleasure and not a chore to be dealt with.
Repeat as needed. Babies and young children find comfort in repetition.Familiar words and sounds seem to have a calming effect. Some kids insist on reading the same book hundreds of times and never seem to get tired of repetition. All of these are positive signs that your child is enjoying the process of reading, even if it's the same book over and over again. Don’t hesitate to repeat phrases or read the same page or book again if your child seems to particularly enjoy something.
Switch books. If you find that your child is losing interest midway through a book or page, try to get his attention by pointing out to something interesting, turning the page or asking a question. If nothing works, move on to another book. Your child’s attention span and age should be the guide as you choose books to read. Sometimes, switching books or changing the tone of your voice works. At other times, your child has had enough for the day and it’s time to end reading time before things get out of hand. Which brings us to...
Begin and end story time. The important thing about creating a pleasant association with reading is to know the best time and place to read to your child and also knowing when to stop. Never let reading time overwhelm your child. Figure out the pleasant associations that work best for your child. Some babies respond to reading aloud right after they’ve been nursed. Other children enjoy being read to outdoors on a park bench. Many babies like to be held and rocked to sleep as they hear a bedtime story. A combination of it all works too.
The bottom line is - whether you read one word, one page or just talk about a book with your child or show him some pictures or watch as he chews on a cloth book, it doesn’t matter. Reading to your child is an experience that evolves constantly and has lifelong benefits. What’s important is being consistent and to continue to create positive associations with reading as your child grows into a toddler, first grader and teenager.
Since children’s listening and reading comprehension skills develop at different rates, they benefit from being read to even after they’ve learned to read themselves. Reading aloud to your child from an early age paves the way for a ‘read-aloud-bonding-ritual’ that has countless long term benefits for your child and intangible benefits for parents and other caring adults in the child’s life.