Book Reading Strategies
By Inga Siler, MS, CCC-SLP, CPSP, and special guest Ann Kimpton, M.S. - Reading Specialist
Book reading with your learner can be a wonderful way for adults to support literacy and speech/language skills! Learners do not need to be independently reading to benefit. Here are some tips to make it an enjoyable experience for all.
Tips to Make Book Reading an Enjoyable Experience for All
Keep the sessions short at first! In the beginning, your learner might only be able to attend to a book for 1-5 minutes. The goal is for book time to be fun and interactive.
Choose books that are high interest and about a topic your learner is interested in. Motivation is the key!
Select the book type:
- Use sensory books that allow for touching. Books that have bumps or different textures on the surface can add to the book experience.
- Flap books are also interactive. Take turns opening the different flaps and talk about what is inside!
- Board books are sturdy and have pages that are difficult to rip. Many sizes and types of books are available.
- Look for books with minimal text at first. As your learner becomes more comfortable with book reading, you can increase the number of words.
Start by looking at the pictures or talking about what you see. Point and model labeling the pictures. It is not necessary to read every word on the page. Early literacy skills focus on talking about pictures.
Involve your learner by letting them turn the page. Model core words like “turn” when turning a page and “open” when opening a book.
Read the same book – A LOT! Did you know that reading a book multiple times is helpful for learners? Repeated reading allows the reader to become familiar with the story, so you can interact in different ways. Try pointing and labeling pictures, filling in the blank, or asking questions to vary the experience.
Introduce books with familiar patterns. The book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. is a wonderful example of a book with a pattern. In the book each page starts with the phrase, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?” and then follows with, “I see a ________ looking at me.” Each animal is labeled with a color +animal, for example, red bird. Your learner can also fill in the blanks. For example, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you ____?” The learner could say, “See.”
Pause and allow time for your learner to respond, comment, or request. Wait time gives your learner time to process the information on the page. It is okay to wait and see what your learner has to say.
Have books available and accessible in your home. Keep some books in a place that your learner can reach. This allows for independent time to look at books. Even if your learner is just looking at the pictures, they are still learning literacy skills.
Read with others. Reading can be an opportunity for others to develop a relationship with your learner.
BE SILLY! Adding humor, such as purposefully adding a silly word or voice can make everyone laugh. The goal is that reading is a positive experience. For example, if reading a book about a bear, use a growly voice!
Resources for finding books:
Local Library: The children’s section at the library typically has a children’s librarian who can suggest books that might appeal to your learner.
Resale Shops: There are often gently used books. Check in regularly as items change.
Little Free Library: These small street structures allow people to share and exchange books!
School Book Fair: Teachers can help with book selection.
Social Media Resale Groups: These local resale groups often offer gently used books.