Did you know there is a direct relationship between the hours a child has been read to and their success in literacy? It is also linked to their likelihood of attending university, better parent-child interaction and promotes far higher vocabulary, attention span and imagination skills.
Children learn through imitation, so the more you show them that reading is fun, the more likely they will be to enjoy reading too. Below are some tips to get more out of reading with your child (remember reading to your child ideally starts from birth and occurs daily!!):
- from birth to about 6 months – read the story or just point out the pictures or find a book you can sing to, which will interest your baby even more
- from 6 months to 12 months (or more)…ditch the story!!!
- your aim is to keep their attention, whether that be naming one picture per page and flicking quickly, working towards pointing to two pictures per page until eventually reading the story
- most little ones at this age will not have the attention for words on the page, so pick up any book with good pictures, especially pictures of everyday things your baby might know – single picture books, Spot, Maisy, Where is the Green Sheep, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you see?, Old Macdonald, Wheels on the Bus
- making up the story, just by looking at the pictures, encourages you to use words your child is more likely to understand, rather than relying on the actual story written
- keep your child’s attention for longer by encouraging them to help you turn the pages. This can be done from 6 months of age and is best done with board books. Use the words ‘turn the page’ each time and show them with your hand which way to turn it.
- discourage turning backwards in a book as this does not teach your baby the flow of left to right. Most children who turn from the left are just not sure how a book ‘works’ and need some guidance. Open the page from the right halfway and say ‘turn the page’, helping them to do so.
- from birth, it can be easiest to lie down next to your baby on the bed and read, so your heads are together. They can turn to look at you (once they are able to) during the book which is more social than you sitting behind them. You can also keep an eye on what they are looking at and be in a bit more control of the book.
- let your baby guide the book – don’t get so caught up in reading the book, you miss the fact your child is looking at different pictures to what you are reading about (eg. if you are naming the page with the bear on it, but they are looking at the next page with the cat, skip to that so they hear the correct word for the picture)
- point to the pictures that correspond to what you are reading, particularly if they are words your child may not know – imagine someone was reading you a book in Russian, you’d learn some new words quicker if someone pointed to the appropriate pictures at the same time
- for those children that have limited attention span with books, don’t forget lift-the-flap books, touch and feel books, song books (eg. old macdonald) and books with attractive pictures and repetitive phrases (eg. Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?; Where is the green sheep?; Dear Zoo; Peepo; Each Peach Pear Plum)
- place books here and there throughout the house so your child can find them several times a day
Most importantly! Respond enthusiastically to all attempts to join in. Don’t get caught up in just reading the book!
Stay tuned for some book ideas and reviews…