Reading is often perceived as something that happens as the child gets ‘school-ready’ – a way to prepare for formal reading instruction: letter and sound learning, decoding, and reading text. But what about reading for pleasure? Recent research highlights the importance of adults reading to children from a young age, as early as babies! The benefits have been found to range from communication and language skills, understanding the world, and personal, social, and emotional development.
What are the benefits of reading together?
- A bond is formed between the adult and the child
- Language patterns – rhythm, rhyme, and sounds – are heard
- New words or phrases are introduced and become part of daily interactions
- Print awareness and story structure are developed
- Opportunities for discussion are created, as new ideas are explored
- Different perspectives are shared, developing empathy and understanding
- Curiosity about words and a love for reading are nurtured
If that’s not enough – reading aloud benefits children’s vocabulary, pronunciation, comprehension, listening skills, reading skills, speaking skills, and critical thinking skills.
What’s NOT to love?!
Stories don’t just need to be read word-for-word: they can be poked, prodded, and teased out!
How can you engage children while reading together?
- Be expressive: Be expressive: Play around with your voice as you change it for each of the characters and events in the story. Go high, low, loud, and quiet – this will keep the child listening!
- Add action: For stories with repeating words and phrases, children can listen for a word and then do the action. For babies and younger children, this action could be a tickle, a gesture, or a specific way you touch their body.
- Interact with the book: Children around 2-years-old are building their receptive language skills. Look for objects on the page that they can point out as you ask, ‘Do you see…’, “Where is…’, ‘Can you find…’
- Add sound: Use voice to create environmental sounds as you beep-beep, moo, and r-r-r-rumble your way through a story.
- Invite prediction: By the age of 3, children are beginning to make predictions. Before you turn the page, ask them to consider what might happen next!
- Be playful: At 4-6 years, imagination is growing! Play around with story ideas as you create alternative endings together, change the characters, and add dialogue. These skills will all be useful when your child starts to write their own narratives.
- Explore images: Pore over illustrations to give additional insights into the story. What can be seen on the page that furthers the story? What do the images tell you about the character’s life? Where can children make connections with their own experiences?
- Encourage retells: Invite the child to tell the story in their own words, using the pictures. How does this resemble what is written in the text?
Stories can be read several times to a child, each time taking a different approach. As the child becomes more familiar with the story, you will see an increased confidence as they pick up books. A favourite sight is when a child picks up a book and finds a space to get cosy and ‘read’ it by themselves. The gift of reading for pleasure!
Use these posters to:
- Highlight the importance of adults and children reading together
- Display in the learning space as a reference for reading strategies
- Support families with reading behaviours and tips