Smart Ways to Talk with Young Children

Giving your child many opportunities to talk helps them build a large vocabulary and increases their ability to describe events and tell stories. The following suggestions can help your child develop important literacy skills.

Build Vocabulary

  • Read and talk about books that include facts about things that interest your child. 

  • Ask your child to practice saying a new word aloud.

Build Sentence Skills

  • Ask open-ended questions. For example questions that begin with: "What's going on....?" "What do you call that...?" or "Why do you think...?"

  • Follow your child's answer with another question. For example: "What else do you see?" or "I wonder how..."

  • Expand upon what your child says. Add another piece of information. For example: "Yes, the sirens are noisy. They have to be loud. Why do you think they should be loud?"

Storytelling Starters (from PLA/ALSC's Every Child Ready to Read @ your library)

  • For infants and toddlers, start with silly sounds. Children delight in mimicking the sounds you make. This is just the beginning of having conversations with your child.

  • Tell your child how you felt the day he or she was born.

  • Tell a story about your childhood. Children have a great interest in hearing about experiences their parents had at a similar age.

  • Use simple props such as a puppet or a stuffed animal to tell a story. Use silly voices for different characters and ask your child to join in.

  • Use family photos to tell different stories.