Reading with preschoolers

Reading with preschoolers
Children become active readers around the age of 3. What books should you read with them?

At the age of 3, kids start to have more fun with reading and participate more actively during story time. They’re talking more and more, so they might comment on illustrations and ask questions.

Reading to kids between the ages of 3 and 5

Before you begin

Before you start reading, have your child describe what he sees, such as by asking, “Max’s mom looks angry—what do you think made her mad?”

Getting children to think about these kinds of questions helps develop their observation skills and imagination. This simple exercise will also enrich the conversations you have with your child.

During story time

You can always read a story as it’s written in the book, which will help your child learn new words. You can also make up tales of your own to match the illustrations. Your little one may even play along and want to help you tell the story.

Before turning each page, see if your child can guess what will happen next. At the end of the story, you can ask how it could have ended differently. Raising these questions helps kids understand that a story is a series of events with a beginning, middle, and end.

Try to choose books on a variety of topics, such as modes of transportation, animals, or food, to expand your child’s knowledge and vocabulary.

After story time

Once you have finished a book, talk about it with your child. These discussions will help your child form longer sentences and use the words she’s just learned.

Choosing books for kids between the ages of 3 and 5

Below are a few ideas on the types of books your toddler might enjoy.

Children can become real bookworms around this age as they begin to associate reading with quiet time, identify with the characters, learn about different topics, and disappear into their books.
  • Books with illustrations. Even children who don’t know how to read can follow along with these stories and share what they think.
  • Books about a favourite subject (e.g., cars, knights, dinosaurs).
  • Series of books that feature the same characters. Your child will love reading about their adventures.
  • Books that teach kids about real-life issues (e.g., moving, parents who get divorced, self-esteem, losing a loved one).
  • Picture books for babies (books that have words under a series of pictures. These books are a great way to get kids on the road to reading by helping them form mental pictures of words they use every day.

How to get children interested in reading and writing

Here are a few activity ideas to help get your little one interested in reading and writing.

  • Send holiday and birthday cards to family members. Help your child handwrite personal messages for his relatives, or include a few of his drawings with each card.
  • Open a library account. Oh, the books your child will read! Check to see if your library has a “story time”—kids love listening to stories with a group of friends.
  • Make your own book. Simply fold a few sheets of paper in two, staple them together, and have your little one illustrate a story you come up with together. Your child might also want to glue in personal items or images, to which you could later add a legend.
  • Celebrate birthdays with books. Give your child a new book every year, or get him a subscription to a magazine.
  • Create a reading corner in her bedroom. Grab a few pillows and a kidsized bookshelf to set up a cozy space just for your toddler.
  • Encourage your child to make up his own stories. Have your toddler invent stories based on two or three images snipped from flyers or magazines.
Your child is more likely to develop a love for reading when it’s a family activity. Children will see that books are a fun way to learn new things when they see their parents pick up a book. After all, there’s no one better than you to instil a love of reading in your child. Without your help, this activity has a much smaller impact.

Things to keep in mind

  • Talking to your child about the books you read together fosters an interest in reading and writing.
  • Choosing books about topics your child is interested in will help your little one develop a taste for reading.
  • Making up stories or making your own book with your child can also spark an interest in reading.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Solène Bourque, psychoeducator
Research and copywriting: Naître et grandir team
Last update: October 2017