When parents ask me “What can I do to help my child’s language improve?” One of my first recommendations is to read to their child. I’m not alone. Many SLPs that work with preschoolers and even early elementary SLPs recommend reading as a great way to help with language skills. So why are books so beneficial?
1. Books, for this age, contain lots of pictures. These work as great visuals to help children understand what is being read to them. You can also just look at the pictures and talk about what you see. This allows you to expand how you use each book.
2. Books are a great way to build vocabulary. Books will use vocabulary that we don’t use as often in everyday speech. While these words are not as frequently use as other words, they are important for children to be exposed to and to learn. Typically children with large vocabularies do better in school than children with smaller vocabularies.
3. You can read books over and over again. It is important to read books more than once. Children will gain a better understanding of the story and learn new vocabulary terms. Children will often have a favourite story and beg you to read it over and over and over again. You will be bored of a book way before your child becomes bored.
4. Books can help with learning grammar. You can find books that have a range of sentence lengths and are, with some exceptions, grammatically correct. Books that are repetitive such as “Dear Zoo” by Rod Campbell help strengthen weak grammar skills or can help introduce parts of grammar that the child is missing. Some books will intentionally use grammatically incorrect sentences such as “Me Hungry!” by Jeremy Tankard. I usually use these books very strategically.
5. Books can help with higher level language skills. As children get older, the books they read become a little more sophisticated and you can start working on higher language skills such a predicting and problem solving. Books by Leo Lionni are great for asking questions like, “What do think is going to happen?,””Why do you think he did that?” or What would you do if..?” These are skills that are needed to help with academic success.