Even though it will be a few years before your child can start reading on their own, having your 1-year-old spend time with books is integral to their future literacy. By reading with your child regularly (we recommend daily) you will help them develop pre-literacy skills such as print awareness, phonemic awareness, and print motivation. Furthermore, it's fantastic for parent-child bonding and will help progress language development! When reading to your little one, try out a few tips and tricks to make the experience interactive:
- Talk about the illustrations - Your child is absorbing all parts of the reading experience and is slowly making meaning out of what is being said. By pointing out aspects of the illustrations and talking about it, you are clarifying words for your child and helping them make connections. You can say things like, "Do you see the brown dog? What is that dog doing? He's chasing the ball!"
- Use animated voices - Kids love it when adults use lots of expression when they read. Put on voices for the different characters and be sure to use emotion when the story calls for it. Doing so makes the whole reading experience more enjoyable and helps your child distinguish dialogue between characters.
- Use facial expressions - Using facial expressions that match what's going on in the story not only makes the entire experience more engaging, but also helps your 1-year-old learn to identify emotions. Ask them to join you in making faces! Say things like, "The little bird is sad that he can't find his mother. Can you make a sad face, too?"
- Let your child turn the pages - Let your child take an active part in the reading process by allowing them to turn the pages of the story if they're showing an interest in doing so. This will make them feel like they are contributing to the experience and help them to develop print awareness.
- Cuddle up - Interactive reading includes being physically close and interacting with the book together. Cozy up in a chair with your little one on your lap or snuggle up next to each other on the sofa. Your child will enjoy bonding with Mommy or Daddy and forever associate reading with positive feelings.
- Ask them questions - In line with talking about the illustrations, ask your 1-year-old questions about what they see or hear in the story. Ask them to point out characters by saying things like, "Who is happy right now?" or ask them yes or no questions like, "Do you see the boy playing with cars? Do you like playing with cars? Yes, I know you do!" If there are words your child knows and you come across those pictures in the book, ask them to identify it by saying, "What's that?" Be sure to shower them with plenty of praise when they get it right! This will encourage language development.