Making the Most of Family Storytime

Baby and adult reading a picture book

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I am often asked- “What can I do as a parent to improve my child’s speech? language? vocabulary?  

My best advice is to make the most of your daily activities (i.e. cooking and eating, play time, story time, etc.) There are a lot of simple things you can do as a parent during these activities that help your child develop a larger vocabulary, enhance language, and improve speech.  

When asked to write a blog post for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, I thought it would be a great idea to write about making the most of story time!  

I do want to preface with this thought: You do not have to follow every tip! There is a lot of information following, which can be overwhelming. Follow the tips you feel are easy to remember and incorporate them into your daily story time. Also, remember that you want to maintain the flow and enjoyment of the book without too many pauses for questions and comments.     

Now, its story time in your household and you and your child/children are about to sit down to read together. Before you do, help your child pick the books that you will be reading. Pick something that is interesting to your child. It is a great idea to read holiday-themed books after the holiday, because this helps your child relate the book to her/his real-life experiences (i.e. “Do you remember getting Valentines from your classmates last week?”).  


So, you have chosen your books and are ready! But before reading, I would recommend talking with your child about the book.

1. Introduce the book by title, author, and illustrator.

2. Count the number of words in the book title.

3. Brainstorm about the story based on the cover and the title of the book.

4. Ask your child to identify any letters from their names in the title.

It’s time to read now and there are also some great things you can do while reading the book with your child to help improve her/his language and comprehension.

1. Point to text as you read.

2. Label characters and settings. Label objects, actions, adjectives and adverbs, and emotions.

3. Segment multisyllabic words (i.e. Ha-lo-ween). Begin tapping them out down your arm, one syllable at a time.

4. Summarize main points.

5. Ask questions that increase awareness of “gaps” in the story.

6. Highlight cause and effect relationships.

If some of these recommendations seem a little too easy or advanced for your child and her/his age, remember these things:

For younger listeners the goal is to increase vocabulary.  Use a variety of descriptors and prepositions (in, behind, under).  Give insight about your own thoughts (i.e. “That makes me think/wonder/feel …”). 


For more advanced listeners ask basic questions (i.e. Who is in the story? Where are they going?).  Ask higher level/open-ended questions (i.e. What do you think might happen next?). Make connections: Compare and contrast characters or events. Make real-life connections when possible. 

photo of a boy reading

Consider what is expected at your child’s age level and modify your statements and questions accordingly. Using these techniques is also really helpful when reading with children of different ages.   

By incorporating a few of these suggestions into your daily story time routine, you can help your child expand her/his vocabulary and improve reading comprehension exponentially!   

If you are interested in learning more about improving your child’s speech through daily activities, visit our website Our Resources for Families page includes information about speech-language milestones, tips for early literacy development, and more!  


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