How to Make the Most Out of Joint Book Reading

The first step in learning to maximize the benefits of joint book reading is to read, read, and read some more. Find ways to integrate reading into classroom activities and curricula; try linking books to each lesson you teach or, better still, select books to use in and guide your lesson planning. Be creative in your thinking, and always look for opportunities to embed a reading activity; you might surprise yourself with how far you can stretch one book.

  • Interactive Reading
  • Dialogic Reading
  • Using a variety of prompts
  • Book walks

When reading books to children, it is important to focus more on how you read rather than what you read; in other words, simply reading the words on the page is not enough. Learning to read responsively is the ultimate tool for facilitating early literacy and language development. The following is a list of strategies that educators can use to improve how they read to children; we will review each technique in detail within the following lesson

While it remains true that how you read makes a greater difference than what you read, that does not mean your book choices are unimportant. Knowing how to choose the right books for the children you read to is a crucial skill for any early childhood educator. Books must be attractive and engaging as well as developmentally appropriate for the age group you teach. Educators should also look for books that work for them, instead of against; books containing pictures, vocabulary, print, themes, etc., that help them read more responsively and design complementary lessons/activities.

Observational studies show that children become more engaged in books with colorful, lively illustrations and content, which vary page-by-page. Additionally, children appeared less likely to engage in conversations related to counting books, name-the-color or object-type books, and alphabet books. So, when choosing books to read in class, glance through the covers and pages and pick out the most visually interesting– look for stimulating colors, unique fonts, varying font sizes, and attractive illustrations.

Books like How to Catch a Turkey, by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton,

With illustrations, this varied, energetic, and colorful, the opportunities for expansion are almost limitless!

or Good Night Wind by Linda Elovitz Marshall:

Notice the extra flair of the text? Learn about print saliency below

Educators can also look for books with the following qualities:

These are books in which the salient (i.e., most noticeable) design feature is the print­ed text itself; that use variations in its typeface, font, size, and arrangement to create visual interest and direct readers’ attention. Print salient books help draw children’s focus to the text and promote written language awareness (remember the chart from the previous lesson?). You can draw further attention to the print by pointing and tracking with your finger while reading, and encouraging children to do the same.


These are books that utilize repetition of particular phrases, themes, sequences, or events; some of them build as the story progresses, while others might come in the form of folklore and fairytales. Predictable pattern books put fewer demands on children’s language processing abilities (e.g., decoding new words, grammatical forms, etc.), allowing a greater focus on comprehension and improved acquisition of sight words. Further, they can help educators provide children with numerous opportunities to infer, guess, and make predictions about the story.


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