The Purple Cat: Early Book Reading

“Oh, good luck,” I’ve heard so many parents mutter, “There’s no way Jimmy will let you read to him.”

Where did the idea come from, that book reading must take place seated, with every word on every page being read?

I turned open the book and exclaimed, “Look! I see a cat!”. Jimmy loved cats. He said “purple cat!” and pointed, then he ran to the other side of the room.

I read two words and turned the page. “Hmm…”, I wondered, “Where are you, cat?”

Jimmy came over from the other side of the room and again pointed to the cat. “Purple cat!” He answered.

I read two more words and turned the page. This continued through the entirety of the story.

Jimmy’s mom burst into tears. “He’s never let me read a full book before!”.

Shared book reading has so many wonderful benefits for children: early literacy skills, exposure to new vocabulary, increases in attention… the list goes on and on.

But what’s the secret? How can you gain a child’s interest into this book reading world?

The answer is: SO many different ways.

Depending on the age and language level of your child, you do not need to read every word on every page. If your child is speaking in 2-word sentences like “go daddy” and “more eat”, read only 2-3 words per page.

Label what your child points to, or see if your child can find something on every page (like with Jimmy’s purple cat).

Use board books for an easier way for your young one to turn the pages himself.

Act out parts of every story to increase attention, following direction skills, as well as expand on vocabulary: Can your child jump like the girl did in the story? Can he pretend to drink milk like the boy in the story?

These days there are many books that are even more interactive! Look into Velcro books or Melissa and Doug’s “Poke-a-Dot” books to increase engagement even more.

No matter how you read with your child, just remember this is your special time! Enjoy finding those purple cats, together.

Sorina Larson, MS, CCC-SLP