Three Tips to Get Little Ones to Engage
During Storytime

Early Literacy
By Julie Barton

Sometimes, reading to a little one can be hard! They wiggle, they squirm. You might think “are they even listening? What does it matter, anyway?”

Having a Ph.D. in Literature and a Masters in Children’s Literature, I’m here to let you know it matters, and it matters a lot! The earliest years of a child’s life form the basis of all later learning - in fact, in their first three years, your baby is forming a million neural connections every second. Sharing books with your little one, in addition to being a wonderful time for the two of you to bond, builds a love of books and of learning that will last for the rest of their childhood and beyond.

How can you use beautiful children’s books, like those from Canticos, to support this important time? Tandem’s “three tips” for early literacy are great ways to start.

  1. Follow the child’s pace. Let your child lead - if they want to read the same page over and over, or skip to the end, that's ok. Let them understand that they can be in control of the story, and they will get even more excited.
  2. Make it a conversation. Ask lots and lots of questions, and try for open-ended questions as much as possible. This means, instead of "what color is that puppy?", ask, "That puppy sure is silly! What silly things do you think she did yesterday?"
  3. Have fun! Reading, telling stories, and spending time with your child are all joyful activities. Use funny voices, make movements, and have fun with the book and with the story.

So, keep doing what you’re doing, and enjoy all Canticos has to offer with your little ones. (And if your children are really little, eating books and flipping pages are the first signs of “print awareness”, so celebrate it when they steal the book out of your hands.)

About the Author

Julie Barton is determined to never be “too old” to read books for children. With a Ph.D. in Literature and a Masters in Children’s Literature, she is the Development Director at Tandem, Partners in Early Learning and believes that quality children’s literature can change the world. Connect with her @JulieBartonPhD or with @Tandem_BayArea.

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