“The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.” National Commission on Reading (USA), 1985
Children develop literacy skills and an understanding of language long before they learn to read. Young children who are read to regularly have a more extensive vocabulary, a better understanding of concepts such as ‘over’ and ‘in-between’, and possess higher levels of phonological, letter and sound recognition.
Tips for reading to your child
- Make it frequent and at a regular time so that it becomes an eagerly anticipated ritual. Five to seven days a week is best. Bedtime is ideal, but any time when your child is relaxed and happy to spend downtime with you is perfect.
- Remove background noise and distractions so that you can both focus on the book(s).
- Relax and get comfortable – make it a special moment.
- Be enthusiastic – this should be fun for both of you; don’t make it a chore.
- Use lots of expression in your voice and face. Use different voices or accents for characters, make sound effects, pause for dramatic effect – be creative with the way you read.
- Discuss the pictures. This will help your child with their descriptive vocabulary.
- Ask your child to make predictions. What do they think the book is about? What do they think will happen next?
- After reading the book, chat about the story or the characters or themes. Ask them to retell the story in their own words or talk about what they would have done if they were a particular character.
- Re-read favourite books – repetition and familiar words are the building blocks to learning to read.
- Read a variety of books – picture-only books, books with stories, factual books, rhyming text, prose, different genres – expose them to a wide range of age-appropriate literature.