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How To Get More Out Of Reading Books To Your Child

Simple and easy ways to enhance the magic of story time.

How many times have you read a book to your child this week? Snuggling together to read a book is an activity that you’ll likely do with your child an almost endless number of times during their childhood so it’s often a great opportunity to cultivate a lifelong love of reading. Story time is critical for language development and literacy skills, with a study finding that young children who are read up to five books a day from an early age will enter kindergarten having learned 1.4 million more words than children who are never read to. So, before you start reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar again for the umpteenth time, here are a few ways to get more out of your next reading session. 

Create the right environment

Set aside the time to read, rather than trying to do it on the fly. This enables you to give your child your undivided attention and also create a lovely environment for you to explore a story and let it unfold without having to rush through it. Ensure you’re sitting together in a quiet spot, that’s well lit (so you can both see the pages) and you’re both feeling comfortable. It also offers you a great way to get a few extra cuddles into your day!

 

Let them choose 

Encourage your child to choose the books that they want to read. Try to have all your child’s books in an accessible spot so they’re able to look at a book, pick it up, and thumb through the pages. You may find your little one wanting to read the same books over and over again, and this is totally fine and expected for young kids as the repetition provides them with a sense of familiarity and comfort. In fact, research has also shown this repetitiveness and being exposed to the same books over and over again helps to expand a child’s vocabulary. 

 

Make it interactive

Reading a story in a flat, monotone voice makes for quite a dull story time so aim to make it a little more interactive. Embrace making sound effects, whether it’s a chicken making a clucking sound or a cow mooing, or a car vroom-vrooming. Also, when you’re progressing through the story, try to comment on what’s going on whether it’s “Gosh that person was so brave to go into that forest!” or “I wonder what’s going to happen next?” This helps to keep your child’s attention on the story and will help them become more invested in the narrative.

 

Do the voices!

This is a great way to capture your child’s attention when you’re reading a story, after all, who can resist having a story brought to life in such an engaging way? Embrace doing different voices for the various characters in a story, the sillier the better! Not only is this wildly entertaining but it also helps your child differentiate between all the different characters in the story.

 

Embrace the drama

Even if you haven’t got an Oscar stashed away at home, you can still embrace your inner actor when it comes to telling a story. Whether it’s acting out a giant stomping in a forest or making funny facial expressions to demonstrate how a character is feeling, a little dramatic touch in your storytelling makes the story all the more engaging.

 

Ask questions

Give a story a little more depth by asking your child to think about the story beyond what they’ve just heard. Ask them questions such as, “If you could change the ending to the story what would you like to happen instead?” or “Which character do you think you’d like to be friends with?”. This helps to develop their reasoning skills and also fires up their imagination. As your child gets older it also helps to encourage their comprehension skills as asking questions helps them revisit their understanding of the story.

 

Story time is without a doubt one of the most magical parts of the parenting journey, and watching your child become immersed in a book is ultra-rewarding, not only for their development but also in fostering what will hopefully become a lifelong love affair with books.

 

By Tania Gomez

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