Be as dramatic as possible. It’ll help the story stick in your child’s memory. You could give the mouse a British accent, make the lion roar, or speak very slowly when you’re reading the snail’s dialogue. Have fun making sound effects for words like boom, moo, or achoo. Encourage your child to act out movements, slithering like a snake or leaping like a frog.
Invite special guests. Ask your kids if their favorite stuffed animal, action figure, or doll would like to listen too. Or curl up with the family pet. Including the whole gang will help hold their interest and make storytime seem more special. But if your child does start to lose interest before you’ve reached the last page, that’s okay because half a book here or a quarter of a book there still counts as reading!
Keep lovingly worn books in the rotation.There’s a reason your kids ask for the same title again and again: A familiar story can be as comforting as a favorite blankie. The characters become their friends, and the books serve an important emotional purpose.
Play a guessing game. When reading a new book, pause a few times to challenge your kids to predict what’s going to happen next. Encourage them to refer to the title and illustrations for clues.
Reflect on the story. Talk about a book for a few minutes before you move on to another. Start a conversation with statements like “I’m wondering . . . ,” “I wish I could ask the author . . . ,” and “I’m getting the idea . . .” This helps develop your children’s intuition and their ability to communicate a story back to you
Connect stories with what’s happening in real life. Suppose you read your child a story about a baby bird, and a day or two later, you spot a tiny sparrow in the park. Ask your child, “Doesn’t that bird look like the one in the book we read yesterday? I wonder if it’s looking for its mommy too?” Doing so will help promote information recall and build vocabulary.
Create an improvised reading nook. Storytime on the sofa or a cozy chair is sweet, but wouldn’t your kids lose their mind if you set up a fort every now and then? It doesn’t have to be fancy: Just drape a blanket over two chairs, grab a couple of pillows, and squeeze in.
Always be the storyteller at bedtime. You’ll feel so proud when your little ones start recognizing and sounding out words on their own. But resist asking them to read to you at bedtime because it would replace this warm, wonderful bonding ritual with something that can feel like work for kids. Plus, they’ll be able to listen to a more complicated book than they can read on their own.