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Reading to Your Preschooler

Show Your Child That Reading Is Enjoyable

For many parents, reading a book to their young child is the most enjoyable, stress-free part of the day. Until he learns to read, your child needs your direct help with books more than almost any other area of play, points out noted child development expert Penelope Leach. You should make time every day to read to your child to help him grasp the richness and joy books can bring to his life.

It's a good idea to read a variety of books. Three- and 4-year-olds favor picture books, which they can look at on their own as well as enjoy listening to you read. "Reading" pictures prepares your child for reading words in a few years, so spend time talking about the pictures. Ask her to guess what might happen next or what various characters are doing in an illustration.

Don't wait until your child is in elementary school to introduce chapter books. Chapter books help develop longer attention spans, larger vocabularies, and visualization skills, asserts Jim Trelease, author of "The Read-Aloud Handbook." Trelease recommends starting with books that have an engaging main character like "Stuart Little" by E. B. White or "A Cricket in Times Square" by George Selden. And let your child see you enjoying adult books -- leading by example will show your child how enjoyable reading is.

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