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This post is part of my 6×6 series on encouraging literacy in children from birth to five.

2014-04-28 11.40.52Talkers

Talkers are children age two to three. These children are in the second stage of early literacy development. At this stage toddlers usually have a large enough vocabulary to begin to tell stories on their own, or help you to tell stories. How we read to children is just as important as how often, and children who are actively engaged in reading and storytelling will learn to read more easily.

At this stage experts recommend that dialogic reading, which is reading that helps the child tell the story. To do this the adult becomes the questioner and the child responds. This style of reading utilizes open-ended questions like: “What is happening?”, “How do you think they feel?”, ‘Where are they going?”. Don’t rush the child to answer. Let them think about and respond on their own and in their own time.

The best books for this type of early reading practice are books with little to no text. It is also great to select books that include repetition in their wording, but reading the same book over and over (as mind-numbing as that is for us adults) is great for your little one.

2014-05-06 08.49.05Some great titles for this are:

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

Freight Train by Donald Crews

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee

Check out your local library for their selections of books for two and three-year-olds.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Did you know that when you read books to your children they are exposed to about three times more than in normal conversation? That’s a pretty big difference. However, talking to your children, even when not reading, is very important. The more language children hear the larger their vocabulary grows. Studies show that kids with large speaking and listening vocabularies find learning to read easier. It is also important to go ahead and use words that you know they may not be familiar with. While reading, do not substitute  a word with an easier one. The more exposure they get to all words, the better.

There are several activities you can use to talk with your toddler and help build their vocabulary and language skills:

  • Look at pictures and talk about what you see, and ask them what they see.
  • Have your child identify things and people in illustrations.
  • Try to find real life items in your home that match images in books.
  • Make word labels and attach them to things in your home or your child’s room.
  • Talk about and explain unfamiliar words.
  • Label things beyond objects, like feelings, actions, ideas, and other abstract concepts.
  • Have a surprise bag filled with items. Take items out and have your child identify them and talk about there use.

Information for this post and other 6×6 posts is adapted from the 6×6 READY TO READ cards provided by the State Library of Kansas through a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.