We are so comfortable with the idea of a book that we can easily forget that children need to learn how they work – where’s the front? Which way do you turn pages?
I once witnessed a preschool teacher who came upon a child holding a book upside down and examining its pages. Instead of turning the book around, the teacher got down next to the child and began asking questions. What do you notice about that picture? Where are the girl’s feet? Where is the sky? What can you do to get things in their right places? Allowing the child to figure out the answers to these questions creates a lesson that won’t be forgotten.
You can help a child learn how books work by making sure she has lots of opportunities for contact with books. Provide cloth books and board books for young children, and when they are older, allow them to hold one side of a picture book, or the entire book. Instruct them in carefully turning pages without tearing, and allow them to turn the pages.
When you ask questions like, “what do you notice about the front of the book? How is it different from the back?” a child can begin to understand that a book has a front and a back, and that he needs to begin at the front of the book to read the story. Hand him a book upside down or backwards, and give him time to figure out how to orient it for reading.
Even before they learn letters or words, children can understand that pages are turned from right to left, and words are read from left to right. Pointing to words as you read them will give them the idea.
When they are ready to start reading, they will already be comfortable around books and will know how they work.
My next blog will discuss other ways to introduce pre-readers to the world of books.
Blogger Sandi Staud shares her expertise on diagnosis and intervention for learning disability in early childhood. If you have questions, please contact Director of Learning Programs Carmen Mendoza at .
Image courtesy of Jomphong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net