Consider these strategies for before, during, and after reading a story together.

Before Reading:

Talk about books before you read them.

  • Put two books in front of children and say, “Let’s choose a book!” Then kids can point to or reach for their choice.
  • Look at the front cover together. Ask, “What do you think the book will be about?” For younger children, point and say what you think.

During Reading:

Look for ways to make the words and pictures come to life!

  • Ask children to help turn the pages (babies can’t turn pages on their own, but at 18 months, might begin to try).
  • Try using different voices for each character and act out scenes with gestures or body movements. Read in a sing-song voice.
  • Let children chime in with the last word of a familiar line. “The cat in the…(hat)!”
  • Run your finger under the words as you read to help kids understand there’s a difference between words and pictures. Don’t worry about pointing out each individual word—it’s important for children to hear the rhythm of language, too.
  • Point to and comment on pictures. Ask, “What’s happening on this page?”

After Reading:

Now it’s the perfect time toj talk about the story and let children share what they remember.

  • Ask questions that invite children to think about why certain characters did something or felt a certain way. “Let’s go back to this page where Peter looked mad. Why was he mad? What did he decide to do?”
  • Encourage children to share their favorite parts of the story (describing them or acting them out).
  • Connect the story to kids’ lives (“Have you ever felt the same way as this bunny?”).