Your three-year-old will become increasingly interested in how letters come together to form a word. You can reinforce the concept even when you’re not reading a book. As familiar words come up in conversation (dog, cat, sit, hat), spell them out verbally or write them down on a piece of paper. This will help to reinforce the concept that printed letters represent spoken words, a critical early literacy lesson.
Text and Image Correlation
One of the most important reading concepts your child will learn this year is that when you read a book, you’re reading the printed words on the page, not the pictures. Strengthen this association by running your finger beneath the words as you narrate, illustrating that text is written from left to right. You may even take it a step further and point to individual words, indicating the spaces that separate them. Put Me in the Zoo by P.D. Eastman (in the Dr. Seuss™ & His Friends book club) is an excellent choice for helping children in this age range master the skill of word recognition, as the word zoo is creatively illustrated on almost every page. Make a game of it—challenge your child to locate the word art on each page, and then move on to finding the text version of the word.
What Comes Next?
In addition to sharing their opinions about what’s happening in a book, preschoolers begin to develop the ability to make predictions based on previous events. Help to hone this skill by pausing frequently during a story to ask your child what he thinks will happen next.
Fill in the Blanks
Your preschooler thrives on participation, whether it’s building a tower of blocks or reading his favorite book. Encourage him to play an active role in the books you share by pausing every so often and letting him “fill in the blanks” by providing the next word. For familiar books, you might even encourage him to re-tell the rest of the story.
Play Your Part
Role play and pretending are core activities for most preschoolers. Apply them to reading by turning story time into a theatrical performance. You and your child can act out parts in the story, adopting different accents and mannerisms for each of the characters. Not only will this help keep him engaged in the story, it will get him laughing and help to cultivate a colorful imagination.