My name is Angie Rikard, and I am the Director of Speech-Language Services for Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center. I have been serving children and adults in the Charlotte area for 20 years! And I am thrilled to share a little bit about using holiday books to expand your child’s speech and language skills during March, which is National Reading Month.
Reading is an extremely important component of language development. And the holidays provide an excellent opportunity for parents to get children excited about reading. Just think of all the amazing holiday books you read growing up- “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Polar Express,” “The Dreidlel That Wouldn’t Spin,” “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!,” and so many more!
The two things we love most about holiday-themed books are 1. that they can teach children rare words and 2. that children can more easily relate to these books because of their real-life experiences.
- Rare words are words that are not used in everyday vocabulary, such as valentine, reindeer, or stocking. These books often-times introduce these words to children for the first time, expanding their vocabulary!
- Additionally, holiday books can help a child relate what they are reading to their recent experiences. (i.e., opening presents or playing in the snow) That is why we recommend reading these books even after the holiday has passed! So, in March, read a Valentine’s Day book, like “The Runaway Valentines,” and use this book to help your child relate the story to her/his recent experience. (i.e., “Davey made 30 valentines for his classmates. How many did you make?”)
When you are reading with your child, we encourage you to practice Active Reading. Active Reading involves reading a book with your child rather than to your child. Simply follow the ABCs of Active Reading:
Ask “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” and “Why” questions that cannot be answered in one word. (i.e., “Where did the boy go during the Polar Express?”)
Build vocabulary by connecting words with pictures, asking what words mean, and connecting new words to words they already know. (i.e., “A bonnet is a type of hat, like the red hat that you wear.”)
Connect to your child’s world
Connect the book with things that your child already knows, prior experiences, or things that interest her/him (i.e., “Look! Sally is trick-or-treating. Do you remember what you dressed up as last Halloween?”).
By practicing Active Reading, you can significantly improve your child’s language, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, and it only takes 15 minutes, 3 times a week to make a difference!
I hope that this article inspires you to continue reading and expanding your child’s speech and language skills! If you are interested in learning about speech and language development, please follow us on social media and visit our Resources for Families page.
Blog by Angie Rikard, M.A., CCC-SLP, Director of Speech-Language Services at Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center