Back To School, time for books and building your child's vocabulary.

August 28, 2013


It is indeed back to school time.  Most people know that reading to children is an important part of their development.  What most people aren’t aware of, are other aspects to reading, called pre-literacy or pre-reading skills. These skills include building your child’s vocabulary, making them aware of print/letters and developing storytelling skills, all before they can even read a word. These pre-reading skills have been well researched and are directly related to later academic development. Here are some strategies to build these pre-reading skills in young children:

Expose your children to board books, magazines, and photo books daily

  • share a ‘reading’ experience with your child, at some point during your busy day

  • make time to sit with your child, it does not need to be formal. It can even be 5 minutes together; try to do this everyday.

  • look at photo books of family members or trips taken, browse through catalogues for toys, look at a book on the iPad or look through board/picture books together.

  • casually point out the title of the book (Here’s the name of the book) as well the author (Look this is who wrote this book)


                                         * my niece Laurenne

                                         * happily having her reading moment in the bathroom


Begin telling stories together

Children need to hear stories and tell stories in order to understand them.

  • with infants and very young children, talk to them about their day: who they saw, what they did with you, what made them cry, what made them feel better

  • with toddlers, prepare them with stories of what the day ahead will hold, then review with them what happened. Retell their daily experiences and let them fill in the missing pieces (Then we went to the playground, you went on the swing and said…..)

  • with 2 to 3 year olds, begin to help them tell stories with you.  Act out some of their favorite stories from books (pretend to be a character while you read, do some of the actions depicted, encourage your child to do the same).  While playing with them, add to their ideas or their play schema/story.

  • with 4 to 5 year olds, give them time and space to make a drawing and then tell a story about it. These stories often do not make any sense! Go with it, write down their words and listen to their story – whether about your pet cat or a recent trip. A child I work with told me this about her recent summer trip: “In Florida, we didn’t watch any TV!” – no mention of going to Disney, seeing her grandparents, playing with cousins or flying on a plane.

So go ahead, tell your own stories about your childhood and get ready to listen up to your children’s stories as well.


                                    * one of my goddaughter’s Anna, and her sister Cora .

                                    * getting their daily reading done while commuting


Next month, I’ll share some more pre-literacy suggestions, along with some great resources. If you have a specific question that you’d like answered on this topic, please send your questions to I’ll do my best to include it in next month’s post. Thanks, as always, for reading this post!



Vanessa D’Auria is a licensed, experienced SLP providing home based services in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and LIC. For more information about Vanessa, visit or email directly at


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