Book Knowledge and Appreciation is an important part of a preschooler’s development. Learning to read is often a long and difficult process for many children. There is a saying; Up until third grade a child is learning to read. After third grade a child is reading to learn. As preschool teachers we can help children be motivated to learn to read by showing them how books open up new worlds of information and curiosity.
Use your story time to promote language and literacy development. Encourage the children to predict what will happen in the story or another way to solve the stories problem. Make sure that you give child-friendly definitions to words in the story that the children might not be familiar with. Remember that vocabulary is crucial to later reading comprehension. It is often recommended that you re-read a book several times throughout your unit of study. One way to do this is through Dialogic Reading http://www.readingrockets.org/article/dialogic-reading-effective-way-read-aloud-young-children. Dialogic Reading is basically having conversations around books. These conversations around books also help children to understand that books have purpose. They are important teaching and reference tools. Building conversations around books helps build stronger vocabularies and sentence forming.
Young children need to be able to relate to the characters in the story either through a strong character or fun language. There should be some lesson in the story (manners, diversity, friendship skills, or concepts such as numbers, colors, or animal habitat). Books with accurate pictures help give young children reminders of what is happening in the story.
Now it is time for the children to start making connections about the books. I have listened to many parents of third grade children state that their child is having a difficult time with reading. It is not that they cannot read the words; they have difficulty with the comprehension, the understanding of what is happening and the order that it is occurring in the story. Preschool teachers can help children learn comprehension by asking open-ended questions about the story and encouraging them to retell stories through their play. By bringing parts of the book to life in your various centers, you are encouraging the children to make up increasingly complex play scenarios. Through their play the children are learning that stories follow a path (there is a beginning, a middle, and an end). They may be solving a problem (making a carwash tunnel with blocks) or working on a concept (all the like colors go together). By playing out simple story scenarios, children are beginning to understand the concepts needed for reading (and writing) in their later school years.
Preschool is the time for children learn how to care for books. They must learn how to hold a book and not step upon them. It is time learn how to turn the pages one at a time as a story progresses. It is time to learn the various parts of the book and where to find them (front, back, cover, spine). Children must be shown where to start reading and how to follow the words in making sentences. It is time for the children to learn books in English are read left to right and top to bottom.
A variety of books should be accessible to children throughout the day. These include both fiction and non-fiction. Watch closely to make sure the children are not hurting the books but do not put them away. Instead model positive book handling and repairs. According to the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, there should be at least 20 books always available for the children to look at. These should include both fiction and non-fiction. There should be books that reflect the cultures of all the children in your classroom as well as books about people, animals, science, and abilities. These books should be organized into a quiet and comfortable reading area. The goal is to make looking at books an activity that the children enjoy.
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