Summer Reading for Preschoolers: How to Start Kindergarten

Kindergarten teachers can easily spot children who have been read to. They are the ones who can hold a book correctly, turn pages working from front to back, and who are aware of the directional flow of words. Summer reading offers a perfect opportunity for parents to facilitate many pre-literacy skills needed for school. By following a few simple steps, parents can make summer reading a springboard for literacy success in kindergarten and beyond.

The first step is the selection of books. Kids love going to the library, and this makes for a cool summer outing, literally. Take your child to “first readers” and let him pick out a few books that interest him. You certainly want your child to get excited about what he’s reading! If you’re having trouble finding books on a particular topic, the children’s librarian will usually be happy to offer guidance.

The next step is to make reading time a fun and interactive experience, while also encouraging vocabulary growth, language growth, and comprehension. This can be done by first asking your child to look at the illustrations in the front and back of the book and then to describe what he thinks it is about. Follow up with a “picture tour” where you and your child take turns discussing what you see on each page and how the characters might be feeling. As she reads, talk about any words she’s unfamiliar with. Before going from one page to the next, sometimes ask him what he thinks might happen next. During all previous interactions, expand on what she says, using more complex forms of language. For example, if she says, “The dog is here,” then you can say, “Yes, the dog is sitting and waiting for her bone.” Finally, check your child’s language when she makes grammatical errors. These storybook reading interactions go beyond simply reading words on a page and allow her child to build her vocabulary, expand her knowledge of language, and employ critical thinking skills. All are important foundations for early literacy success.

The last step for summer reading is optional, but it can prove invaluable to your child as their kindergarten year approaches. In addition to your book choices, consider spreading out books that have a theme of cooperation, fairness, sharing, respect, or compassion, to name a few. A variety can be found by searching the Internet under “themed books for preschoolers.” These books can provide you with a forum to discuss with your child the attributes necessary to develop positive relationships with teachers and peers. Look at it as tackling a new and fundamental R for the school: building relationships!

Summer reading with your preschooler can be a great source of enjoyment that also presents opportunities for growth in literacy. With a little planning, you can also help prepare your child socially for the demands of school. As the days get longer, take the time to read a few books with your child and, in the process, get them on an early path to kindergarten success.

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