At OjO we firmly believe that sharing a book with a child is one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile things you can do as a parent. Not only is it easy to do, it’s immensely rewarding and valuable!
There is a wealth of evidence to show that children who read for enjoyment every day, not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
Keep reading for 8 reasons reading with your child is so wonderful and enriching. Plus, try our reading activity to get the most out of story time.
Reading for visual recognition & vocabulary development
Learning to read is about listening and understanding as well as working out print. Through hearing stories, children are exposed to a rich and wide vocabulary. This helps them build their own vocabulary and improve their understanding when they listen, which is vital as they start to read. It’s important for them to understand how stories work as well. Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out, copying what they have heard.
Share Ed-Ventures with your child whilst discussing thoughts and feelings
Sharing a book with your child allows you to share adventures and experiences in the safe world of the book. It allows you to ask questions, talk about what has happened and decide what you think, together. Reading together promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your child to be able to concentrate. It also builds listening skills and imagination.
Young children learn about colours, shapes, numbers, and letters, while older children discover an expanding chain of knowledge, through the regular sharing of books with an interested adult.
Develop key thinking skills
Books will help teach your child thinking skills. When you read to your child, they learn to understand cause and effect, they learn to exercise logic, as well as think in abstract terms. They learn the consequences of actions, and the basics of what is right and wrong.
Learn about life, relationships & differences
Sharing books together will help teach your child about relationships, situations, personalities, and what is good and what is bad in the world they live in. Fantasy books provide material for imagination and free play. Fairy tales fascinate most children, and help them distinguish between what is real and what is not.
Reading at different times of the day
Read with your child every day, a bedtime story is a vital part of a night time routine, signalling the end of a busy day and a time for rest and sleep. There may be other opportunities during the day when you can share stories, poems and rhymes together, especially if your child is at home with you for some, or all, of the day. All reading is good – Don’t discount non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines and leaflets. Reading is reading and it is all good.
Make reading a playful two-way experience
Don’t be afraid to try different voices or try out your acting skills. While you may not win an Oscar, your child will enjoy your performance and appreciate the story even more. Remember that your face says it all – so exaggerate! The first time you share a book together, read it through purely for enjoyment. Whilst it is important to ask your child questions about the book, they can come later.
Encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems. You may be bored but they won’t be! Re-reading helps to build up fluency and confidence.
Boost memory recall
Books and poems which include rhyme and repetition are great for encouraging your child to join in and remember the words. Emphasise repeated words and phrases, for example in the classic story ‘The Gingerbread Boy’, the phrase ‘Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Boy’, is often used and children quickly master this and join in. In this way, your child starts to learn the language used in books. Encourage your child to say the words with you.
Introduce letters & punctuation to young children
As you read, follow the words with your finger. The finger should be beneath the line of text you are currently reading. This will show your child how a sentence progresses, that a full stop represents a pause in the flow of the story and other relationships between written and spoken language.
How to make reading an interactive experience: an activity for you to try
When you talk to your child about what’s going on in a book, give them plenty of time to respond. Try to ask questions that don’t require just yes or no answers.
Questioning is not only great for encouraging your child to interact with the book, but it is also extremely effective in developing their ability to understand what they are reading. Teachers place great emphasis on the need for children understand what they are reading,
- Whilst looking at the cover of the storybook as your child to identify the characters or to point to a specific character, when asked
- Ask your children to choose a favourite character and if possible tell you why they made that choice.
- Ask why a character is feeling happy, or sad or excited.
- Compare events and people in the story with your own life.
As your child's competence, confidence & growth mindset improves and, as they get older, you can begin to work on the ‘higher order’ skills that will be further developed, in school, by your child’s teachers, some examples are below:
- Show your child the cover of the book and ask him what he thinks it is going to be about (predicting).
- While reading, ask him what he thinks is going to happen or why he thinks a character made a particular choice (inferring).
- If a character is depicting a strong emotion, identify that emotion and ask your child if he has ever felt that way (connecting).
- At the end of the book, ask if his prediction(s) came true. Afterwards, ask him to tell you what he remembered happening in the book (summarising).
You need to remember these are skills which your child will develop over time. You don’t have to ‘interrogate’ your child about every story, sharing a book sometimes should just be for pleasure. Indeed, the bedtime story should always be for pleasure!
Whether you love books, magazines or blogs, let your child see you reading. Have books readily available in the home for your child to pick up whenever they choose. Children learn from what they observe. If they see that you’re excited about reading and that you do so on a regular basis then your child is likely to catch your enthusiasm, too.