Reading helps to develop so many life skills such as creativity and expressing feelings, reading and writing skills, language and communication skills and general knowledge. Whether they are fictional or factual, books are something that should be enjoyed every day, yet with the age of computers, the internet and computer games this is not always the case. As a parent you are your child's most influential educator in helping your child to learn to read. Try these ideas and tips that I have picked up through working in nurseries and talking to friends with older children.
- My daughter has a library card; Get one for yourself and your child so that you can choose books and change them regularly. It's free!
- Try not to automatically put the TV on when you walk through the door. Take half an hour to sit and read with your child or you read your book and encourage them to read theirs.
- Read together-reading doesn't have to be a solitary activity.
- Storytelling without a book or using a picture book encourages creativity and imagination. Make the experience of reading an interactive one-ask questions about the story, what might happen next and what they think of the characters
- For young children make a story sack or box with different and props objects in that can be used to make up stories to retell a story. I remember my two sisters and me tipping a table on its side as a boat and acting out The Owl and The Pussy Cat'. We still know all of the words off by heart to this day.
- Read all sorts of books with your child-picture books, non fiction, poetry, magazines, and joke books. Remember reading isn't just about books, children, from a young age need to understand that they can get information from a huge number of different sources; recipe books, food packaging, signposts, invitations, newspapers, instructions to games.
- Choose a time when you can be relaxed and give your undivided attention.
- Praise your child - build their confidence at every opportunity.
- Make reading enjoyable for you both, it's not just about getting the words right. Even if you think the text is too easy, talk about the story line or characters or find words with letter patterns.
- Choose a time in the day when your child is receptive and not too tired.
- Follow the words with your finger.
- Be prepared to read the same stories over and over again. I have a friend who had to read the same story every night for more than 2 months because it was her son's favourite! He now reads her the story! Repetition is a really good way for children to learn.
- Let your child pretend to read and tell the story themselves.
- Teach them how to hold books and turn the pages gently.
- When your child grows and their knowledge increases, introduce them to more complex books but don't forget their old favourites. Children like the predictability of a book they have heard again and again.
- When reading to your children, leave time in between to encourage comments and questions. Try missing out words for your child to complete, try pointing at the picture instead. Rhyming books are a really good way to do this because it is easier for your child to guess the word.
- Let your child see you reading books and magazines-children learn by example.
There are different organisations and events designed to encourage children and their families to read more. These include:
World Book Day-World Book Day was set up to encourage children to explore the joys of reading and books. It gives them the opportunity to have a book of their own by issuing book gift tokens to schools for each child.
Bookstart - Bookstart was started to support parents in enjoying books with their children from an early age. Free books are given to your child along with
support and guidance for you on how to engage and inspire your children with books. These books are given to your child during their first year from your Health Visitor and again when they are 3-4 years old from their nursery or playgroup. If you have trouble getting a pack you can ask at your local library.
My husband and I have read to our 2 children every day since they were tiny babies and now they love looking at books, with people and on there own. They now have lots of books - probably more than the local library!
We make sure that we sit with them throughout the day whenever they want (and whenever we can) and look at books, pointing out and naming pictures. We also let our eldest (2 years old) have magazines, newspapers and catalogues to look though (and tear up!) to help her learn that there are a lot of different sources of information.
Hopefully her love of books will continue!
Ria has 2 girls and previously worked in nurseries for over 15 years and left managing a day nursery when her eldest was born. She now works for Raring2go! as our Digital Content and Strategy Manager
If you are interested in writing for Raring2go! or featuring on our site please email Ria.