Stop Reading to your Kids: Here's What to do Instead

Incorporating reading into a child’s daily routines is an excellent way to encourage early communication skills, boost vocabulary and form foundations for listening and attention. Often time parents feel obligated to stay within the confines of a book’s words and forget that there are a variety of ways to utilize your child’s favorite books.  Here are 3 creative ideas for switching up story time.

Go Beyond Reading the Page Verbatim:

Depending on your child’s age and ability to understand language, reading the words of a book could be overwhelming for your child. Instead of reading to them you can both point to pictures and say the names of the things you see (e.g. “Look, there’s a lion!”) or the actions that are taking place (e.g. “He is eating icecream”). You could even play a modified hide-and-seek game by naming items and helping your child find them on the page (e.g. “Where’s the bicycle”).

Give Your Child the Mic:

Children often love hearing the same stories read to them over and over again. Once they are able to start putting more words together try a story retell. First read them the story cover to cover and then hand the mic to them and see what they come up with. Children typically have a hard time getting started, so you can help by giving them starter sentences (e.g. “The duck is….”)  and pointing to relevant plot details to guide their descriptions.  Remember: the focus is on telling a story in their own words, so it’s not necessary for them to retell the story exactly as it reads. Be sure to provide lots of encouragement (e.g. “I love when you tell me stories”) to keep the experience positive.

Get Creative:

Take your child’s favorite story and help them make up their own version. This is a helpful way to enhance early narrative skills by discussing story components such as characters, setting and sequencing of events. Get some construction paper out to help them draw pictures or use a doodle app such as “Doodle Buddy”  to help create each page. Be sure to encourage creativity and work together to brainstorm how you can change the story in a fun way. This will help give your child ownership of their work and ultimately fulfill a sense of accomplishment at the conclusion of the project.

Have you tried any of these activities? Let us know how it went in the comments section below. 

Over to you...

Does your nonverbal child with autism struggle with attention? Any tricks you've found successful? Share your story in the comments below - I’d love to hear from you!


I send out blogs like this regularly, offering my expertise and useful tips for parents about all things related to child learning, speech and language development and the use of technology to help children’s communication.

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Baby's First Words: 5 strategies to get them talking earlier

A baby’s first words are a monumental achievement in any parent’s eyes. It’s important to recognize that children first begin communicating with gestures and vocalizations at a very young age (e.g. smiling at you or pointing to what they want) but words don’t typically come until after a child’s first birthday.  Everyday your baby listens to the conversations surrounding them and slowly begin connecting words to their meanings. Once a child develops the appropriate musculature and coordination they begin stringing sounds together (i.e. babbling) and their vocalizations begin sounding more and more like real words. 

Do you desperately want to hear what your baby has to say? These five strategies will help your baby utter those first words in no time! 

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