Reading with your children is one of the most beneficial things a parent can do to help stimulate a child’s imagination, improve their literacy skills and support their speech development.
Not only that, but the bonding experience is second to none. You are helping your child to develop emotionally and socially, which are arguably the most important skills children need to develop.
By reading with your child, you are creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Reading to Babies Is a Great Use of Time
Either the books you have chosen are picture books, or you will feel the vocabulary in the book is too difficult for your children. As babies, it doesn’t matter what you read to them. You could pick up War and Peace if you wanted, and the sound of your voice and language will still support your baby’s development in great ways.
The best part about reading to your child is the closeness, it’s never too young to start.
With picture books, specifically the ones without any words, you could talk about what you see. As your baby gets older, you will be able to encourage them to say words about the pictures or point to something.
The process of sharing a picture book with your child will show them how books work. How to turn the pages, that the symbols and pictures have meaning, and that it is a fun thing to do.
If you can get your children hooked on books at an early age, you will be giving them such a huge advantage in life, as studies have shown that children who are read to regularly have a better understanding of the world around them, have higher emotional development and better speaking skills.
Reading with Older Children Is So Fun
The books you read with toddlers, and older children, are often full of great rhymes, and funny storylines. You can have a fantastic time doing silly voices and acting a little daft with your child.
At this point, your child will be more receptive to the content of the book. You can begin to ask them questions about what is happening in the story, and what they think will happen next.
You can look at the rhyming words and the letter sounds. There are so many things you can do, the list is endless: makeup actions to go with the story, draw pictures from the story, write some of your own words, encourage your child to join in reading (especially with the repetitive books).
At this age, reading to a child is when both you and your child will get the most from the experience. Read as many books as you can, read your favorites over and over again, try fiction and non-fiction.
Toddlers are particularly strong-willed, so you can even ask your child to choose their own book to read.
How to Get the Most Out of Reading
Reading with children at all ages is a worthwhile pastime, so here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the experience.
- Make a set time to read every day. It could be at any time that works for you both; during breakfast, after school or at bedtime. As long as you dedicate that time of day to reading, and stick to it, you’ll be halfway through the library in no time at all.
- Let your children choose the books you read. This has been previously mentioned, but let’s just think about it for a moment. You wouldn’t be happy if you had to read a book that didn’t interest you. It is the same for your children. Yes, sometimes this might mean reading The Gruffalo seven days in a row, but that quality time with your children is precious, and you’ll miss it one day.
- Snuggle up together. Being close while reading is one of the best parts of the whole thing. Who doesn’t love a cuddle with their children? Getting snuggled up nice and warm creates an atmosphere of love and comfort and children thrive on this feeling.
- Point to the pictures, or words as you read. This will help your child to track the story with their eyes, further understanding how books work. This is only really important for young children when they are still developing their understanding of the mechanics of a book.
- Talk about the book. When you’ve finished the book is the perfect time to talk about the story. Ask your child about their favorite character, or what happened, or even what they didn’t like about it. Just talk about the book, without turning it into the Spanish Inquisition.
- MAKE IT FUN AND EXCITING! I cannot stress how important this is, and dads are usually really good at this. Silly voices, ‘accidentally’ getting the story wrong and generally just being silly will make the experience so much more fulfilling for both you and your child.
The whole point of reading with your child is to support their development, whilst having some good old-fashioned bonding time. There is no wrong way to do it, so push through any feelings of nerves you may have and just get on with it.
After all, who’s judging you? Certainly not your child, or those who love you. Just pick up and book and begin the journey of a lifetime.
Written By Sarah Jules
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