Young children need lots of language exposure in order to take on the task of reading. However, this language exposure happens in a very natural way. Children listen to all the sounds of language in their worlds from their prenatal womb experience and throughout the first few years of life, absorbing sounds that special people make to them while talking face to face.
Books add another layer to this communication and sound exposure. While reading a book, we often use words that we seldom say in our everyday experiences. They may be simple words, such as names of animals or foods we don't find in our kitchens, or they may be more unusual words from the environment beyond our neighborhoods, such as thicket or brambles or mountain peak.
What if a finger puppet uses an unusual word? The toddler will hear the word from you, holding him or her on your lap. The toddler will also hear the word from that animated voice you use when you make the puppet speak.Maybe he or she will listen especially closely if the word is said with emtion.
Then, if the finger puppets are made available to them, you may hear the children telling the story all over again, acting it out with the finger puppets in their hands. Listen to see if they say any of those unusual words. This is when they are practicing new vocabulary. They are also learning how a story goes together. If they can make sense of a simple story, they may move on to retell longer, more complicated stories, too. Your little ones are on the road to becoming readers, because they are developing a love for stories and they are learning the way a story progresses from beginning to middle to end.