Reading, especially with your pre-readers, can be done by more than looking at the words on a page. When you read a book with your toddler, preschooler, or pre-reader, practice reading the pictures together. By looking at character body language and character expression, you are building up their reading skills, as well. That’s what illustrators are for!
When you look at body language, ask your child to show you what your body looks like when it is sad or angry or happy. When do you clench your fists really tightly? Or when do your shoulders slouch, and your head hangs low? They will start to notice these details in the characters in their books with your guidance.
When you look at character expression, practice making your own facial expressions! You can look in the mirror, take pictures, and show one another! This is not only a fun way to interact with a book, but also extremely meaningful. What does it feel like when you smile? What makes you smile? When do you make a frown? What happens to your mouth when it’s frowning?
Ultimately, all of the books that you read together help your child make connections to the real world. As they become proficient in reading the characters body language and facial expressions, they will relate it to their friends, siblings, and neighbors around them.