02 Mar 2017
We all know reading to our kids is a ‘good thing to do’ but there’s SO much more to it than that. At OOKS HQ, we love a good natter about books, storytelling, reading and how to involve kids in a really positive way – so we decided it was time to share our musings with the world. Being World Book Day today, there’s no better time!
Reading together can create a stronger relationship between parent and child, teach basic speech skills, encourage excellent communication skills, mastery of language and logical thinking patterns, allow for acclimation to new experiences and enhance concentration and discipline.
The early years are critical to developing a lifelong love of reading. It’s never too early to begin reading to your child! You can really lose yourself in a good book and children sometimes need to get lost and see the world through different eyes too. Discovering books is like opening a door into a magical world where anything is possible. You can walk around in someone else’s skin, live in times and places different to your own, discover new lands and territories you never knew existed and meet wacky and wonderful characters of different generations! When children can connect with something that they read to something in their real life—and especially when they read about someone who reminds them of themselves, it can create positive feelings of acceptance and belonging. But at the same time it’s a wonderful form of escapism. The benefits are endless! Below are a few tips we all came up with after a few chats in the office. We hope you find them useful.
Find some of your old favourites Think about the books that captivated your imagination when you were little. Finding and sharing these books will help spread your enthusiasm for reading to your child. If you don’t own a copy of the book, then make a special trip with your child to the library or a good bookshop. If it’s hard to find, then your quest can become an adventure. Part of the joy in this journey is that you may find other cherished, forgotten favourites and it’s a great opportunity to rediscover your own childhood appreciation for reading.
Read together every day Read to your child every day. Create a warm and gentle atmosphere where your little one will feel totally relaxed. Even if it’s just for two minutes – do it! Reading in the evening before bed is a wonderful wind down activity but if you can find little snippets of time throughout the day to have a little read, do! Making a conscience effort to read to your child every day even for very short periods will get them into a habit of expecting it, and learning to enjoy it!
Use vocabulary as a way to play Discuss what’s happening in the book, point out things on the page and ask questions. Build your child’s vocabulary by stopping during the story to talk about interesting words and objects. For example, “Look at that airplane! Those are the wings of the plane. Is there anything else you can think of that has wings?” If you come across something from a book you’ve read when you’re going about your day – talk about it with interest and enthusiasm. You could even set little challenges for older kids while reading a story – like having a dictionary handy and when you come across a word your child doesn’t know, have him or her look it up! Keep conversation flowing by showing, questioning, explaining and discussing. This encourages children to speak, to use words, to think, to listen, to argue, to persuade and to express their emotions. All of these are vital skills that they will need as they go through life.
Talk about how much YOU enjoy reading Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about Story Time as if it’s something hugely exciting for you. They’ll start sharing this excitement and look forward to their reading time each day.
Get Interactive Use your body language and voice to act out the story and create voices for the characters. You can also take turns reading or having your child do the voice of one of the characters. With younger children, this works best with a book your child knows well. Use lots of different voices. If a character is doing something fun, you could stand up and act out what they are doing. Don’t be afraid to act silly and ridiculous! This time is for you and your child to be and act whatever way you both like – no one is watching, no one is judging. Immerse yourself in the experience as if you were a kid again. You won’t realise how much fun you can have until you just let go and get into the stories. Of course keep this within reason! If your child is beginning to get sleepy – it’s probably not a good idea to pretend to writhe like a snake on the floor or become an adventurer climbing to the top of a ginormous tree! The idea is to make the reading experience more than just reading words on a page – allow it be exciting and fun.
Read it again and again Go ahead and read your child’s favourite book together for the 100th time! Repetition of the same book can be a comforting activity for a child as this predictable pattern empowers little ones with the knowledge of what’s going to happen next. This can be great just before a child goes to sleep as it creates feelings of ease and comfort just before they nod off to dream land.
Talk and experiment with writing Point out print everywhere and talk about the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find a new word on each trip the shops, on a walk to the park, going to school, etc. You could then suggest making sentences with the new words they’ve seen. Eventually, you could write a story together and enjoy an even deeper bonding experience. It’s also a chance to talk about what your child enjoys in stories he or she has read. By taking the time to think about what stories your child has most loved and using this inspiration for writing a story together, he or she may develop a newfound appreciation for literature that will last long beyond your days of reading those stories. Reward creativity with hugs, laugh and applause!
“If you really want something in this world,’ said Olga simply, ‘you’ll never get it by sitting down and waiting. But if you go out and do things there’s no knowing where you’ll end up.”
This is a lovely quote from Paddington Bear writer, Michael Bond, featured in ‘The Tales of Olga Da Polga’. We can all learn from Olga because she’s so right – we create our own circumstances and futures and we have the ability to positively enhance those of our kids. Reading with children from an early age will teach them to love it themselves. And this love will open up an endless world of opportunity showing them all the beautiful things they can and will achieve in their lives.
Until next time, happy reading!
Yvonne and all the staff at Zulleon