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Superstar Storytime: 7 Ways to Read Books to Your Kid Like a Pro

Asian dad and toddler son reading book

“As a child, I reveled in books. I could find everything that I wanted to know,” says Ari Dacquel, a kindergarten teacher at Lacey KinderCare in Washington State, and one of our 2015 Educator Award winning teachers. “Reading encouraged me to find my own answers.”

That’s why Dacquel has become a story time expert: She is a master at captivating children’s attention with books and stimulating their imaginations. As a result, her kids Love Love Love reading with a capital L.

That’s a lesson worth passing along.  Here’s how she creates such passionate and engaged book lovers:

1) Don’t forget the cover.

Before she even opens a book, Dacquel and her students talk about the cover. What do you think the story is about? Does this look like it’s going to be a happy story, or a sad story? Is that character going to be a villain or a hero? That encourages them to use their imaginations as soon as they pick up a book.

2) Ask predictive questions.

Answering questions builds children’s vocabulary and self-expression and answering predictive questions does even more. Predictive questions like What’s going to happen next? give children a chance to think for themselves. Plus, questions make reading together really fun—you never know what answer your child will dream up.

“When children keep asking me questions, that’s what I love the most!” —Ari Dacquel, KinderCare Education Early Childhood Award Winner

3) Think like a child.

If your little guy wants to read the same story over and over (and over) again, remember that something about the book is important to him. If he connects with Goodnight, Trucks, maybe he likes seeing familiar pictures. Maybe he feels comfortable knowing the characters and what comes next.

4) Use character voices.

She loves using silly voices for different characters; it keeps the story lively and entertaining for everyone. “Reading is supposed to be fun, so make it fun,” says Dacquel.

5) Use props.

When Dacquel reads Little Red Riding Hood, she uses her coat to help tell the story. The coat starts as Little Red’s cape, and is eventually inverted as Dacquel pretends to be Grandma in bed, and then is put it on, zipped up, and–because it happens to be a red plaid coat—presto, she’s the Woodsman!

6) Let your child tell the story.

Can’t get through one more page of Angelina Ballerina? Let your child take the lead! Have her tell the story that she loves in her own words or even act it out for you.

7) Change the environment.

Take that beloved Dr. Seuss board book to a new location and re-invigorate your reading experience: Go outside and read on a blanket, head to a coffee shop and read there together, or cuddle up on Mom and Dad’s bed, instead.

Doesn’t Dacquel ever get bored reading the same stories over and over? “I never get bored,” she laughs. “When it comes to reading, I get so excited.”

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