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Read Aloud Like a Librarian

Photograph of a man reading to a baby

Reading to young children as early as possible can help strengthen the bond between parent and child, increase vocabulary, and teach kids about the wider world. HCPL offers storytimes for all ages, from birth to preschool, and we wanted to share tips caregivers can use to read like a librarian.

Kids learn different skills at every age, so we broke our recommendations down based on the different storytimes we provide at the library. The most important thing to remember, regardless of how old your child is, is that reading together fosters connection between you and your little ones.

Reading to Babies (Birth to Age 2)

Babies won’t understand what is being read to them, but that’s ok. The purpose of baby storytimes is to create a bond between a baby and their caregiver and make reading part of the routine. At this stage, babies enjoy hearing the rhythms of their parents' voices. Their eyes are still developing, so choose books with clear, high-contrast images. These books do not need a plot, and you don’t have to read every word on the page.

As they inch closer to their first birthday, little ones will begin to recognize more objects around them and may become fascinated with other babies. For this reason, we love sharing books with photographs of babies.

Here are some of our favorite books for baby storytimes, all available digitally through the library:

Making Faces by Abrams Appleseed. Available on Hoopla.
Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd. Available on Hoopla.
Yoga Baby by Amy Hovey. Available on Hoopla.
How to Be a Cat by Nikki McClure. Available on Hoopla.
Huggy Kissy by Leslie Patricelli. Available on OverDrive.
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Salina Yoon. Available on OverDrive.

Reading to Toddlers (Ages 2-3)

When librarians plan for toddler storytimes, we look for books with short plots, movements, and familiarity. Toddlers can’t sit still for very long, so keeping things interactive is a top priority. When reading with your toddler, enlist them as a helper to keep them engaged. Have them turn the pages and ask questions about the pictures. Nonfiction books that explain toddler’s everyday experiences or interests can be introduced to help your toddler make sense of the world around them.

Choose books with repeating lines, chants, rhymes, or sing-a-longs. Pause before completing a repeating line and see if your toddler will finish it. They may want to read the same book over and over again, and that's okay! Repetition is good for their developing brain. Sometimes your toddler may not be able to sit through a whole book. Just roll with it! We want them to associate reading with fun.

Here are some of our favorite books for toddler storytimes, all available digitally through the library:

Sheep in a Jeep by Margot Apple. Available on OverDrive.
My Car by Byron Barton. Available on OverDrive.
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow. Available on OverDrive.
Dancing Feet! by Lindsey Craig. Available on OverDrive.
Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig. Available on OverDrive.
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Available on OverDrive.
Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin. Available on OverDrive.

Reading to Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)

Preschoolers are ready for a bit more structure. They can sit still for longer books with bigger words, and they can follow a plot and make predictions. Let preschoolers take the lead on what subjects they want to read about at home. Choose books that cater to their interests.

Before starting the book, look at the cover. Point out the author and illustrator and ask your preschooler what they think the book will be about. When reading, pause to ask open-ended questions like “how do you think this character is feeling?” or “what do you think will happen next?” Help them make connections between the story and their own life. Point out new words in the text. If you are rereading a book with your preschooler, have them flip through the pages and “read” to you.

Here are some of our favorite books for preschool storytimes, all available digitally through the library:

Maisy Goes to Preschool by Lucy Cousins. Available on OverDrive.
I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora. Available on OverDrive.
Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Available on OverDrive.
It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle. Available on OverDrive.
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Available on Hoopla.
The Doghouse by Jan Thomas. Available on OverDrive.
The Bear Went Over the Mountain by Iza Trapani. Available on OverDrive.
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. Available on OverDrive.

You can tune in to our Virtual Storytimes on our Facebook page on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:30 am, or Tuesdays at 6:30 pm. These storytimes are designed for the family to enjoy together, with all the elements discussed above.

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