Friday, March 29, 2024

Shared Reading at Any Age

Boost your child’s language skills with shared reading! Take a look at the strategies below to assist your child with reading at any age!


  • Position yourself in front of your baby with your face clearly visible

  • Pick books with simple pictures 

  • Model saying 1 to 2 words to describe each page

    • For example, “dog” “hi, dog” “dog run” etc.

  • Use facial expressions as you read 

  • Great books for infants…

    • Where’s Spot?

    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?

    • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? 

    • Little Blue Truck


  • Position yourself near you child

  • Be flexible! 

  • Follow your child’s lead

    • Toddlers often like to ask questions about the book and pictures

  • Shared book reading with your toddler might NOT be reading the words on the page

  • Instead, you might spend the time answering your child’s questions

    • For example, your toddler might point to pictures in the book and ask, “what’s that?”

    • You should name the picture or action, i.e. “dog” then add another word(s) to describe the picture or action, i.e. “dog run” “big dog” “hi, dog” etc. 

  • You might also ask your child to identify and find things on each page

    • For example, you might say, “where is the cat?” “what does the cat say?”

  • Let your toddler practice turning pages

    • You might say, “next page” then wait for your child to turn the page

  • Great books for toddlers…

    • Llama Llama Red Pajama

    • The Little Engine that Could

    • Corduroy

    • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

    • Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site


  • Position yourself near the child

  • Like toddlers, preschool readers may also want to ask many questions about the book and pictures

  • Follow your child’s lead

  • If your preschooler points to a picture and asks, “what’s that?” then you should name the picture or action and add 2+ descriptor words

    • For example, your child points to a dog in the picture book and asks, “what’s that?” 

    • Then, you might say, “Dog. Dog is big and black. Dog runs fast!” 

  • The number of descriptor words you model will depend on your child’s language level

    • For example, if your child typically uses 3 words to communicate wants and needs, then you should model 4-5 words in a sentence to describe a picture scene

  • Alternately, some preschoolers may be ready to answer open-ended questions about pictures 

    • For example, you might ask, “who is in the picture?” “where are they?” “what is the man doing?” “what color is the house?” 

  • At this age, children may also be able to answer questions to make predictions

    • For example, you might ask, “what do you think will happen next?”

  • Great books for preschoolers…

    • I Can Read Biscuit

    • Pete the Cat books

    • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

    • Madeline

    • Are You My Mother?

School-aged children

  • Position yourself near the child

  • At this age, your child will likely be able to enjoy longer stories with more words per page and/or pictures with more details 

  • Similarly to preschoolers, school-aged children will benefit from answering questions about the book or pictures

    • For example, “what are they doing?” “who is in the tree?” “where are the kids?”

  • In addition to these simple questions, you might start to ask questions about motivation or emotion

    • For example, “why are the kids running?” “why is the boy crying?” “why does she feel happy?”

  • This is also a great age to start asking questions about the main idea

    • For example, at the end of the story, you might ask, “what was the story about?” 

    • If this is still too difficult for your child, then ask questions about the events of the story in order, i.e. “what happened first?” “what happened next?” “how did the story end?”

  • You might also ask your child to retell the story from their own memory

    • For example, at the end of the book, you might say, “now you tell me the story back with as many details as you can remember. What happened in the book?”

  • Great books for school-age children…

    • Good Dog book series

    • The Rainbow Fish

    • Curious George books

    • There was an Old Lady Who book series

What’s the role of the Speech Therapist in reading?

At Building Blocks Therapy Services, each of our Speech Therapists is equipped with the skills and knowledge to help you and your child learn language through shared reading! We care about your child’s ability to communicate at home, school and in the community. Please, visit or call (616) 570-925 to learn more about supporting your child’s language development through shared reading. We look forward to building a relationship with you and your child!


Reading Milestones (2022), Cynthia M. Zettler-Greeley, PhD

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