How Books and Shared Reading Can Encourage Cognitive Development of Preschoolers  

Right from the moment they are born, children are deeply engaged in the social world around them that not only include their teachers, parents, classmates, and siblings, but also different objects as well as values. All these factors work together to create the context for the cognitive development of preschoolers 

The thinking skills of a preschooler undergo tremendous changes between the ages of 3 and 5. This is the time when they start using representational symbols and thoughts to stand for people, objects, and events.  At this age, they also start thinking logically about how things work around them. Though preschool years can result in huge cognitive gains, these kids are still likely to have significant cognitive limitations.  

As teachers are key components of a child’s social environment, they can play a huge role in the cognitive development of preschoolers. One of the best ways to engage the thinking skills of preschoolers is through children’s books promoting different facets of cognition such as symbolic play, reasoning and problem-solving, memory, and metacognitive knowledge.   

Discussed below are some teaching activities and methods to encourage cognitive development of your preschooler in each of these areas.   

Symbolic Play: 

Symbolic representation is one of the hallmarks of the thinking process of the preschoolers.  They may represent a box as a car or a pencil box as a telephone. Unlike toddlers, however, preschoolers do have an idea about the difference between the reality and their imagination. As many of you may have noticed, children find it much easier to relate with characters in books. Therefore, in order to inspire them to participate in pretend play, tell them stories where children engage in symbolic play. After reading out the stories, provide them with simple objects and find out how creatively they are able to play with them.  

Reasoning and Problem Solving: 

During their preschool years, children try to understand and explain why things occur and how things work. While these explanations can often be far-fetched, the stream of questions asked by them displays a genuine desire to reason different problems and solve them.  

This natural curiosity can be honed by teachers and parents through thought-provoking questions while reading aloud to them. Different children’s books can be used as the introduction to different types of problem-solving activities.  


The memories of a preschooler are often impacted by his or her prior knowledge. They find it easier to remember new concepts and ideas when they have good knowledge about it. Also, when a new concept is presented in a meaningful context or taught through hands-on experiences, it is easier for preschoolers to remember them.  

While reading aloud, teachers and parents can make connections between the story and the children’s personal experiences or ask a question that needs them to recall the story’s earlier parts. Also, before introducing new concepts, it is a good idea to read books related to the same topic.  

Metacognitive Knowledge: 

Metacognition relates to an individual’s ability to think about his or her own thinking. Children can be encouraged to reflect on their process of thinking and learning through different types of post-book activities. For example, after reading out a book, students can be asked what they learned from the story. By writing the response of the entire class on the whiteboard, teachers can help children find out the individuality of their learning and thinking.  

If you have more questions related to your child’s early childhood education and development, please feel free to contact our expert educators at Valley Heights Preschool Long Day Care Centre.