Reading with your child
Sharing a book is one of the best things you can do with your child. It's a time for closeness, laughter and talking together. Sharing a book is something that you can do from birth as this special time spent together will mean your child will subconsciously begin to associate reading with love, warmth and happy times spent with someone they love. This means that your child will then be more likely to want to read and more open and enthusiastic to developing their skills as a reader independently. Being able to read well gives children a flying start in life and helps them to develop a lifelong love of reading.
If you’re not feeling confident about reading aloud or sharing books, don’t worry – there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy a story together. Here are a few tips to help you and your child begin your reading journey together.
It’s never too early to start sharing books with them – they might not understand the words, but they will love cuddling up, hearing your voice, and looking at the pictures.
Join your local library. Libraries are full of great advice and recommendations, and you’ll have a new supply of books to enjoy. Your library may also host Rhymetimes and other sessions for little ones – you’ll be able to have fun and meet other families, too.
Get other family members involved. Storytime is something that everyone can enjoy, and it’s a great way to bond.
Sharing picture books can be a lot of fun – but don’t worry if your child gets distracted, chews the book or wanders off… that’s perfectly normal! Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of time in your busy day, either – just a few minutes a day can make a huge difference.
Ask your child to choose what they’d like to read. They’ll feel more interested in the story if they’ve picked it out themselves. (And don’t worry if they keep returning to the same story, either!)
If you can, turn off the TV, radio and computer. It’s easier for both of you to enjoy the story without any other distractions.
Sit close together. You could encourage your child to hold the book themselves and turn the pages, too.
Take a look at the pictures. You don’t just have to read the words on the page. Maybe there’s something funny in the pictures that you can giggle about together, or perhaps your child enjoys guessing what will happen next.
Ask questions and talk about the book. Picture books can be a great way to talk through your child’s fears and worries, or to help them deal with their emotions. Give them space to talk and ask how they feel about the situations in the story.
Have fun! There’s no right or wrong way to share a story – as long as you and your child are having fun. Don’t be afraid to act out situations or use funny voices… this will help to develop their understanding of expression and intonation and your little ones will love it!
As children get older, with lots of other activities competing for their time, how can you encourage them to make time for reading?
Read yourself! It doesn’t matter what it is – pick up a newspaper or magazine, take a look at a cookery book, read a computer manual, enjoy some poetry or dive into a romance or detective novel. And get your children to join in – if you’re cooking, could they read the recipe? If you’re watching TV, can they read out the listings?
Give books as presents. And encourage your children and their friends to swap books with each other – it’ll give them a chance to read new stories and get them all talking about what they’re reading.
Visit the local library together. It’s always fun choosing new books to read and keep an eye out for special author events at the library or local bookshops – children love meeting their favourite authors.
Encourage children to carry a book at all times.
Have a family bookshelf. If you can, have bookshelves in your children’s bedrooms, too.
Keep reading together. This is vital! Just because your children are older, it doesn’t mean you have to stop sharing stories – perhaps you could try the Harry Potter series or A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Don’t panic if your child reads the same book over and over again. Let’s be honest - we’ve all done it!