By Elizabeth Dennison
Shared storybook reading with caregivers is one of the first and most important book experiences of children with visual impairments.
It can be a wonderful way for parents or caregivers to enjoy an activity together, while also helping the child to develop important skills.
Shared storybook reading helps children acquire:
- oral language
- phonological awareness
- concept development
- knowledge of the conventions of print/Braille and of print/braille intentionality, and alphabetic knowledge
Caregivers’ Roll in Fostering a Love of Reading
- Read to the child everyday and start as early as possible.
- Sing nursery rhymes and children’s songs.
- Treat books as though they are special.
- Let the child make their own book with real objects and add braille.
- Read with expression.
- Let the child see you reading.
- Keep books out and available on a low shelf where the young child can find them.
- Practice turning pages together and placing the book right side up. Find page numbers. Talk about reading left to right.
- Explore tactile books.
Shared Storybook Tips
- Select a time when the child is happy and read in a comfortable location.
- Read in a dramatic voice that makes the book exciting and add noises related to the story.
- Read only for as long as the child is interested—a few minutes is OK.
- Let children help turn the pages, even if a few pages are skipped.
- Point to the print or run fingers over the braille as the book is read.
- Discuss pictures, illustrations, and story objects.
- As you read, pause to recall what happened before or to talk about what might happen next.
- Stop to ask questions then think through answers together.
- Relate the book to children’s and family’s experiences.
- Talk about unfamiliar words.
- If the child can see them, talk about what is happening in the pictures. Share your opinions of the story.
See related video and materials at Washington Sensory Disability Services.