Reading with your child

We all love to hear “Read this to me, please!” because it means that our children are interested in books. But do you sometimes wonder whether there are ways that you could improve your reading-for-enjoyment times with your children? The most important thing is for you to enjoy yourselves because that way your children will learn that reading is a pleasurable activity.

So, while there is no right or wrong way to share books with a child, here are some ideas you might like to try.

• Choosing books. Sometimes let your children choose which books they want you to read. Other times, talk together about the books to choose and suggest ones that you think will suit their interests.

• Timing is everything. Share stories at times when your children find it easy to settle down like after bath time or just before they go to sleep at night. Younger children may find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time so don’t read for too long. Remember you want to encourage them to develop an interest in stories and books, so don’t make it a chore!

• Don’t skip the cover. Read the title of the book and the name of the author and illustrator each time you read a book. This helps them to know that real people just like them write and illustrate stories.

• Ask questions. As you read the story, ask open-ended questions about it. ‘What do you think will happen next?’ is a great question to help children develop their prediction skills which are essential to being a successful reader.

• Read it again! If your children ask you to read a story again… and again and again, do it! This allows them to discover new things about the story each time.

• Reading together is for older children too. Once children can read, you do not have to stop reading to them! Choose books that are more difficult and complex than the ones they can read on their own.

If you are not sure where to get started, you can sign your child up for our Reading Club where they receive two digital books per week to enjoy over the weekend. 

Choosing books for children

Which books get children begging for more? Younger readers often choose a book because they like the illustration on the front cover! More experienced readers might choose a book on their favourite subject or by a familiar author. So, how do you choose books for children? Here are some ideas:

1. Ask friends and librarians Ask your children’s friends what they have enjoyed reading or ask other parents what their children are reading at the moment. Get to know your local librarians and ask them which authors children of a particular age usually enjoy.

2. Translate your own stories Books for babies and pre-schoolers should be in their home language where possible. Have a go at translating books that have very few words, which are not published in the language you need. Also, try to find home language books for older children – nothing beats reading a story in your home language!

3. Use pictures and photos. Babies like brightly coloured pictures or photographs of objects or people with simple text. They love feeling the rhythms of language and listening to repetition and rhyme.

4. Create stories with wordless books. Wordless books are a great investment because you get the chance to tell a story in your own way to your children in any language you like. They then can create their own stories too.

5. Find familiar and unfamiliar stories Choose some books that reflect things that will be familiar to your children – for example, books in which the homes look like your children’s. Choose other books that provide new experiences, such as folktales or stories set in different places and cultures.

6. Get books to read alone and together. For children who can already read, it’s best to choose some books that they can read on their own; some books you can read together and some books (with more complex language and plots) that you can read to them.

7. Choose stories about feelings and fears. Picture books and novels about difficult things in children’s lives – like the arrival of a new sibling, illness, parents’ divorce or friendship challenges – can help them process their feelings and face their fears.

8. Add information books to the mix Information books are not just for older children. Factual books stimulate curiosity and help children to learn about our world.

If you are not sure where to get started, you can sign your child up for our Reading Club where they receive two digital books per week to enjoy over the weekend. 

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