Finding the time to read with your child is a fun and valuable way to bond and is a crucial investment in their future.
When you read to them, children experience the joy of storytelling and learn how books can teach and entertain. You are also helping their brains to develop.
When listening to a story, children are exposed to more words than they are likely to hear from day to day conversations, so reading expands their vocabulary. When looking at the pictures, they learn more about the world they live in.
Reading with your young child is not about teaching them how to read, it’s about them reaping the benefits of reading.
Books can give children a way to explore different and potentially challenging experiences like starting school, or going to the dentist, while in the comfort of your arms. This gives you both an opportunity to talk about how they may be feeling.
Tips for reading to your child
You can start reading to your child as soon as you want; some parents start to read to their newborns, while others wait until their child is able to sit on their lap unsupported.
- Sit somewhere comfortable where you can be close together so that you can both see and touch the book.
- Find somewhere quiet away from distractions; turning off the TV/radio, leaving your phone in another room.
- Many parents find incorporating reading to their child in the bedtime routine an enjoyable way to spend this time together.
- For all ages, explore books together; discuss what you see on each page, it’s not a one way process.
There are several types of books suitable for reading to newborns, but in general choose a book:
- with textured pages, so they can look, see and feel, using all their senses
- that is made of materials that can be chewed on and/or taken into the bath
- that has large pictures in black and white so babies can focus easily.
At this age, kids want to be involved with everything you do so let them join in by giving them an opportunity to finish the sentence. Children of this age enjoy:
- books made of a sturdy material so they are able to turn the pages
- books with lift up flaps or pop up pages
- topics such as cars, trucks, princesses, fairies or trains.
By now, if you’ve been reading together for a while, preschoolers will be able to participate more and they may even recognise words! Types of books and tips for this age group include:
- books with rhymes and repetition as they can anticipate what might happen next
- books that have a sense of the ridiculous, nothing engages them more than a laugh
- keep reading in an animated way, bringing different characters in the book to life.
However often you read to your child, remember that this time is well spent, as you as a parent are also benefiting from this time together. You’ve invested in your relationship with your child, all the while promoting their language, literacy and social skills.