interactive reading strategies

Interactive reading strategies are one of the most powerful ways to instill a love of reading in your child and help them become a strong reader.

Reading is essential to your child’s success and you can use any or all of these 21 interactive reading strategies for pre kindergarten to help your child build their fluency, literacy skills and become an excellent reader.

As a Speech and Language expert for over 30 years, I’ve used all of these strategies to help children help children succeed in reading.

So, what exactly are these 21 interactive reading strategies and why are they important to help your child become an excellent reader?

These interactive reading strategies refer to the adult reading to the child, asking questions, reacting and creating reactions from the children to create an emotional connection with the characters in the story.

Why use these strategies to help your child become a strong reader?

Once you use these interactive reading strategies, you’re helping your child learn to love reading. You’ll inspire their creativity, improve their memory and give them a head start on strong literacy and reading skills. Plus, you’re setting an example for them when they become parents on just how to interact with their children when reading.

Here are the 21 Interactive Reading Strategies for Pre-Kindergarten I have used both professionally and personally to empower thousands of children.

And, once you dig into these I want to offer you a special gift here for a limited time on my site,

  1. Begin the storybook with an introduction to explain what the children can expect. Start with the name of the book and author. Then give the introduction. Some books will have this introduction as in Do Not Snuggle with a Puggle. “There was once a young Wallaby named Wally. His two favorite things were snuggles and the thought of adventure. He didn’t always listen to his mom and dad, though. Why? Well, when adventure called to him, he followed the fu. Wally’s mom and dad always reminded him to stay close. One day, though, Wally did wander too far. He was having so much fun with his friend until he hopped so fast that he lost sight of him. What happens next was a big lesson for Wally. Let’s follow him and find out why.
  2. Paired reading: Adult reads part of a phrase and the child takes a turn and “reads” another. Books need to be high in repetition and predictability. Also, use pausing and inflection to cue the children that it is their turn.
  3. Visualization and brain memory: Point out the illustrations. This trains the children to see images in their minds. This skill is important for reading comprehension as the children get older. As the children are hearing the storybook, I Am Not Sleeping, you read/sing/: What are you doing? What are you doing? Tell me now. Tell me now. Then allow the child to point to the illustration as he/she says, “I am eating a cookie.”
  4. Questioning: This is one of the important 21 interactive reading strategies. However, it needs to be handled carefully with young children. Avoid asking direct (can put them on the spot) and scary questions. You can phrase the questions as “How would you feel if . . . .?” “Who might be . . .?” “What do you think . . .?” Be willing to accept all answers and give praise for the response.
  5. Make stories interactive by using puppets and allowing children to act out stories. If the storybook has actions, the children can act out. Talk about the action. An example of a good “verb action book” would be I Am Not Sleeping where the child acts out the verb action as all sing to the tune of “Are You Sleeping.” Ask questions. What are you doing? What did you do? What will you do?
  6. Allow the children to predict what might happen next or on the next page and relate the action/story to their own.  21 interactive reading strategies
  7. Encourage creativity. Sometimes, let the children make up their own story or alternate endings to the existing ones. This nurtures their imagination and storytelling skills.
  8. Choose age-appropriate books. Select books that are suitable for their age and interests. Look for colorful picture books, board book, and stories with simple language and engaging illustrations.
  9. Encourage discussions. After reading, talk about the story together. Ask open-ended questions that promote Critical thinking and imagination. Discuss the characters’ feelings and motivations.
  10. Use expressive reading. Use different voices for various characters and vary your tone and pace. This makes the story more engaging and captivating for the child.
  11. Use print-referencing of verbal and non-verbal cues. An example of a verbal cue is “Look, the bee says, bzzz”. A non-verbal cue would be pointing to print “bzzz” and sometimes tracking the print as one is reading. If a character responds with one word or a short phrase, say (while pointing to the word/phrase) “Look, “character” said, _________.”
  12. Do not force a child to listen. If a child has difficulty sitting and listening, it is okay to have some beads or finger toys for engagement. Or, even better, have some pictures related to the story that the child can hold and look at during the reading.
  13. Relate the story to real life. Connect the events in the story to the child’s experiences or daily life. This helps them relate to the story and understand it better. It also creates greater story memory. An example of relating to daily life would be the storybook, Bee, Honey Bunny and Me, in which both the bunny and the little girl hate carrots and the bees come along and make the carrots yummy by adding honey. This could lead into a discussion of what foods do you like, what helps you eat a food you do not like, etc.
  14. When possible, sing the words. It may take a bit of ingenuity as most books are not written with words in mind. However, there are some available on speech/language therapy and teaching websites. The book, I Am Not Sleeping, offered free for a limited time (see link at bottom of page) can be sung to the tune of Are You Sleeping, Brother John. If you do not have a specific tune suggest for a book, simply use a sing-song voice with slow and exaggerated word sounds.
  15. Read a story as many times as requested. Repetition builds brain memory. 
  16. In choosing a book, play “Where is My Favorite Character?” Have the children find a book with a pigeon (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems). Or, have the children find a book that has a fun cover like Farting Four-Toed Troll. This one of the 21 interactive reading strategies for pre-kindergarten creates a fun memory of books. This is also an effective strategy to bring children who are not “into” books to participate.
  17. Choose riddle books. The storybook, The Book of IF for Children, has a joke built into each page. For example, Mom says, “Imanji, eat your beans. They are good for you.” Imanji says, “Did mom really say, ‘Eat your jeans?” The real fun comes when the adult gives copies of the rhyming pictures included in the book. The child then gets to be the teacher using the interactive strategies as he/she says, “What would you do if you mom said, ‘Eat your corn and you thought she said eat your horn’?”
  18. Provide pictures related to the book – farm animals, children, etc. Often you can find these on the subscription websites for a relatively low cost. Have the children paste a picture or pictures on a page and you write that this is a pigeon. It helps to remind the child of hearing the story Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
  19. Find coloring pages related to the book. Again, you can often find these on subscription websites. Some authors will provide coloring pages of their book characters. Check the link at the end of the article.
  20. Have the children draw characters from the book. It does not have to be recognizable. Compliment the child on their work.
  21. Last but not least, of the 21 interactive reading strategies for Pre-kindergarten – the most important is to read the story many times and enjoy every moment and help your child to enjoy every moment.

These 21 interactive reading strategies for pre-kindergarten, according to research, can significantly impact a child’s language development, cognitive skills, pre-reading skills, creativity, memory, and overall readiness for formal education.

Lavelle Carlson, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech and language pathologist and author of more than 12 books. She is the founder and creator of where you can find hundreds of free photos and images as well as a nominal fee for paid lesson activities. Go here for your FREE downloadable storybook sample, I Am Not Sleeping.

This is a delightful story for kids. You can sing it with your kids to the tune of  “Are You Sleeping Brother John”.                                                                      Related articles:

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