Literacy skills can begin from day 1 for your little one! Books are one of the best ways to help your child learn vocabulary, gain social perspectives and embark on their journey toward reading and writing. During speech therapy sessions I often get asked "how" to work on language skills while reading books. Below are some ways that you can turn an ordinary book into a language exploration!
Go beyond the words on the page! Take time to talk about the images on the page, go off script and talk about how the characters feel or what might be going on in their heads. By thinking and talking about the story, you are building your child's comprehension of the story and increasing receptive/expressive language skills. Observe what your child is pointing to, reacting to, or looking at and make that the topic of discussion.
Expand vocabulary. Children's books are full of rich, descriptive language that your child may not encounter in their everyday lives. Relate the new words back to your child's life by explaining the word in simpler words and then relating the word to something within their life. For example, in the book "Dragon's Love Tacos," it describes the Dragons as "good Samaritans". Children often are unclear what the words mean, and we talk about a good Samaritan being "a helper" and talk about how they have been a good Samaritan in their home or classroom.
Point out the print! Before a child can learn to read, they have a few things to learn about the print on the page. First they need to understand that the print on the page represents language. They also need to learn that words are read left to right. Pointing out words on the page, showing their separation, and tracing your finger along as you read can help your child begin their early literacy path. Have your child pretend to read along with you. Even if they aren't on the correct words, the movement and identification of words on a page is a great first step!
Become aware of sounds. Talk about the sounds letters make,, play around with the sounds, make rhymes with the sound, or go on a search for letters on the page. By pointing out words that start with the same sound, or making rhymes with the words, you are widening their knowledge of phonological awareness and getting them ready to decode sounds as they read.
Most importantly, have fun! Act out stories, play around and have a great time reading to your little one!