There is no better way to invest in your children than to read with them. Reading is free and needs very little equipment, but it equips your child for life. Reading together builds language fluency, language control, vocabulary, and even social-emotional health. Snuggled with your little one and a book is an opportunity to bond and give your complete attention to your emerging bilingual.
But reading together necessitates far more than just reading the words off the page. Instead, the most successful shared reading experiences are interactive. It's called dialogic reading, and it is a method developed by the Stony Brook Reading and Language Project. So often we read books and children listen. This is completely-adult driven. The way to deepen your reading experience involves an adult and child (or children) having a dialogue around the text they are reading. This can happen as soon as your little ones begin to produce language, and shouldn't stop when they're no longer "little kids." As parents, we should continue to read with our kids even into their teenage years!
A dialogic reading conversation includes defining new vocabulary, improving verbal fluency, introducing story components, and developing narrative skills. And good news--it's easy to do and incorporate in your reading routine.
The fundamental reading technique in dialogic reading is the PEER sequence. This is a short interaction between a child and the adult. The adult:
- Prompt the child to say something about the book, ("What animals do you see on this page?")
- Evaluate the child's response, ("That's right!)
- Expand the child's response by rephrasing and adding information to it ("Yes! That's a pig. Pigs live on a farm.")
- Repeat the prompt to make sure the child has learned from the expansion. ("Can you oink like a pig?")
Then there are five types of prompts that are used in dialogic reading to begin PEER sequences. You can remember these prompts with the word CROWD.
- completion (Leave a blank at the end of the sentence and let the child fill it in)
- recall (ask the child what happened throughout the story, not just at the end)
- open-ended (ask the child to describe the illustrations in the book)
- “wh” questions (who/what/where/when/why/how?)
- distancing (text-to-self or text-to-world questions that ask the child to connect the story to something outside of the book)
This might seem like a lot of acronyms, but the gist is to get your child to interact with you and the text. Ask them questions as you read along, have them retell parts of the story (especially for those beloved books they ask you to read and reread ad nauseum,) and use the images and words in books as vocabulary-building activities.
Since we are dedicated to speaking Spanish at home, I read as many books in Spanish to my kids as possible. This has improved my Spanish vocabulary, too!
And remember READ MORE, READ BETTER!