Reading to Two: Introducing More-Challenging Books

When you are reading to children of multiple ages, you may want to choose books slightly above the level of the youngest child. Try these strategies for interesting a child in harder books:

Build on a familiar book. Start off a reading session with an old favorite to help settle a child for a new book. Fox suggests reading books in groups of three: an old favorite, a book that’s been read a few times before and then a new one.

Make the new book familiar quickly. Choose books that are easy to get to know – books with rhyme or repeated refrains that your children can easily recognize. If the book doesn’t have those, you can provide them: Make your own sound effects for part of the story for your children to imitate, or fall back on other gestures they can do at key moments of the story (smack-the-page for splashing water and so forth).

Tell before you read. You can familiarize kids with a story by telling it, rather than reading it, the first few times. One way to do this is to look at the pictures first and go over the plot. When the child has questions that the pictures don’t answer, you can say, “Let’s read and find out.”

Abridge it. Use the original language, just not all of it. Abridging is better than summarizing, because it makes it easier to add the rest in later because what you have been reading is familiar.

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Best Books for Reading to Siblings

From United Parenting Publications, May 2003.