Reading Aloud at Home: Connecting books with Early Literacy Activities

We talk so much about the five early literacy practices: Read, Talk, Write, Sing and Play, and their importance to your child’s brain development in the areas of language, cognition, socio-emotional and fine-gross motor skills.

But did you know that by reading aloud with your child, having a shared reading or participating in storytime at your local library, you can do all five of these practices?

Here are some tips for reading aloud at home:

Before Reading           

  • TALK about what your child would like to learn/READ.
  • WRITE a list with the topics they would like to learn/READ.
  • Visit your local LIBRARY and ask your librarian for book recommendations depending the age of your child/children and the topics you all want to learn/READ.
  • Sit down with your child and choose together what books you will check out.
  • When in the house, choose a warm, quite place to READ the book.

While Reading

When reading the book, you can either set your child on your lap while holding the book with one hand and leaving the other hand free for turning pages and pointing out words and pictures, or you can sit down in front of your child at their level. If you have more than one child, try to sit in a circle or semi-circle.

However you choose to sit:

  • TALK about the book. This is the front cover of the book, and this is the back cover of the book. What can you see/what color can you see on the front cover of the book? The name of the author is ____. The author is the person who wrote the book. The name of the illustrator is ____. The illustrator is the person who made the drawings. Try to adapt your questions/conversation to the age of your child/children; the older they are, the more elaborate questions you can ask.
  • Point to the words you are reading. By doing this your child can relate the spoken words with the printed text. They can give meaning to the printed words and understand the difference between words and pictures.
  • Modulate your voice depending on the text you are reading. Change voices/tone for different characters: a “soft” voice for a lullaby, a “strong” voice for a command, a “loud” voice for a surprise or exclamation.
  • PLAY with your voice and make noises! Doing this you will keep your child’s attention and their desire to keep reading the book. You will be developing a love of books in your child!
  • Make time to stop and look at the pictures. TALK about them. What is happening in the picture? Who is doing what? What color can you see? What forms/objects can you see? How many objects can you see? By asking questions about color, forms, shapes, counting, you will be stimulating their logical thinking and math skills.
  • Create some anticipation! What do you think is going to happen next? Do you want to READ what’s happening next?

After Reading

  • (TALK) Ask more questions! Did you like the book? What was your favorite part? By doing this your child will be able to re-tell the story, activating his/her memory. Your child will be able to develop a sense of sequence (i.e., what happened first, next and at the end).
  • PLAY games like: “Let’s change the end!” or “What would happen after the end of this story if we wrote a second book?”
  • Increase your child’s vocabulary. If you ask a question like, “What was your favorite part?” your child might answer, “When the caterpillar ate all that”. This is a great opportunity to introduce some more descriptive words: “I also liked it when the caterpillar ate all those fruits, vegetables and candies.”

Activities after Reading

  • Movement. Dramatize the story!
  • Arts & crafts. Draw or paint your favorite part of the story, your favorite characters, or the whole story and all the characters. Mold the characters using modeling clay. Create a collage. Check Pinterest for more ideas!
  • Music. Make songs or rhymes of the book. You can make a song of an object or action from the book. For example, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you might choose the action “eat” and SING: “I like to eat, eat, eat, apples and bananas”. You can SING to the same tune, changing the fruits or things the caterpillar ate. Two good resources for songs and rhymes are: StoryBlocks and JBrary.


I assure you that by doing all these activities you will have a lot of fun and laughs!

Pamela Mejia de Rodriguez
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