Library Corner: Tips for reading with a child under 6 |

Library Corner: Tips for reading with a child under 6

Polly Gallagher
Grand County Library District
Annie explores writing in shaving cream with Miss Heidi at Granby Story Time.
Courtesy / GCLD

As children grow and mature, reading is a great way to jump into difficult conversations, consider decision making, and have a time free of distractions. But, as kids are learning to read, it isn’t just about the talk. Reading is a great way for caregivers to help develop literacy skills for life. If you care for a child under six, consider the following ideas.

Reading helps children connect words on a page with spoken language. If you point to words as you read, it builds connections and teaches children how to use books – front to back, left to right. Look for letters in your environment. Speak the signs and words you see. Point out familiar letters such as the first letter of your child’s name. A literacy specialist from Steamboat Reading will be attending our Feb. 20 Story Time at 10 a.m. in Granby Library to answer questions caregivers may have about reading and provide suggestions.

Writing is about the movement for our under sixes. It is about strength, and as they develop, control. Jess Smolleck from Grand Beginnings recommends playing with clay or dough as a great way to build up strength in little fingers. Grasping and holding onto blocks or other toys helps. If your child likes sensory items, draw in shaving cream or finger paints. Miss Carol in HSS brought in a beaver pelt for children to explore. One mom at a recent story time mentioned that she avoids the mess by putting paint into a plastic baggy for her child to practice shapes while in her high chair. Other ways to build control is to pinch — perhaps not each other but pulling stickers or magnets off a surface, painting with Q-Tips, and similar.

Talking with your child is a great way to explore ideas. I heard Miss Emily in Kremmling say “I notice…”, “I wonder….”, or “Tell me more…” as some ways to get conversations started. These starts allow a child to acknowledge, show curiosity, or encourage a child to express ideas. I noticed Saturday Story Time presenter Tess Riley didn’t point to the words and read them but rather pointed to the pictures and asked questions to tell the story.

Sing? What does singing have to do with story time? Signing improves a child’s memory and teaches how to rhyme. Adding gestures to a song helps kids understand meaning of words. Claps help children hear syllables. Songs can help with daily routines.

Play helps your child learn the rules and what is expected of him or her. Books can be a great jumping off point for building the imagination. While reading “A Man on the Moon,” we built robots and rockets at home. “Give a Mouse a Cookie” deserved a chef’s toque and accents while mixing the batter. Juniper Library keeps a collection of dress up items for children to try. This past Thursday at Fraser Story Time, Miss Cindy had us all playing with popcorn. And remember, “I spy” is a great way to build vocabulary.

Interested in learning more? Join a Story Time at your local library branch during the week ( or Saturdays 10 a.m. at Granby Library.

Polly Gallagher is director of public services at the Grand County Library District.

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