Reading is a key ingredient in a good language-learning environment for babies and very young children as well as preschoolers, and reading with children from an early age helps to foster a habit for life with lifelong benefits. Moreover,
The reading of picture books with your child is one of the most important and enjoyable ways of spending time together. The combination of pictures and words is a close relationship, which echoes the relationship between parent and child.
Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate 2009-11
As part of their “Enjoy Reading” campaign, Pearson have produced a helpful, colourful and easy-to-read guide, Reading with your Child, freely downloadable in 26 languages. In addition to addressing a number of common questions, such as What do I do if my child picks a book that is too hard? and How can I find the right book?, it offers some useful tips to explore the stories and make them come alive. (See also, Dino Lingo Parents Guide.)
With a picture book the child looks at the pictures while the adult reads the text. This leads to surprising and stimulating shared conversations between the two, as text and pictures are explored and pored over. In the best picture books there is often a mysterious gap between the pictures and the words, a gap that is filled by the child’s imagination.
There is also a more in-depth “Enjoy Reading guide for parents” that covers key points from why reading is important and the difference we can make as parents to what and how to read with babies and children. It also includes top tips on phonics and helpful suggestions for children who don’t seem to like reading. Here are their Top 10 tips to help children enjoy reading based on feedback from experts and authors:
1. Make books part of your family life – Always have books around so that you and your children are ready to read whenever there’s a chance.
2. Join your local library – Get your child a library card. You’ll find the latest videogames, blu-rays and DVDs, plus tons and tons of fantastic books. Allow them to pick their own books, encouraging their own interests.
3. Match their interests – Help them find the right book – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, poetry, comic books or non-fiction.
4. All reading is good – Don’t discount non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines and leaflets. Reading is reading and it is all good.
5. Get comfortable! – Snuggle up somewhere warm and cosy with your child, either in bed, on a beanbag or on the sofa, or make sure they have somewhere comfy when reading alone.
6. Ask questions – To keep them interested in the story, ask your child questions as you read such as, ‘What do you think will happen next?’ or ‘Where did we get to last night? Can you remember what had happened already?’
7. Read whenever you get the chance – Bring along a book or magazine for any time your child has to wait, such as at a doctor’s surgery.
8. Read again and again – Encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems. Re-reading helps to build up fluency and confidence.
9. Bedtime stories – Regularly read with your child or children at bedtime. It’s a great way to end the day and to spend valuable time with your child.
10. Rhyme and repetition – Books and poems which include rhyme and repetition are great for encouraging your child or children to join in and remember the words.
And beyond what we do as parents, sharing these with other family members, caregivers, etc. (and showing them how to use Dino Lingo) can not only help to make reading a greater part of your child’s life, but also widen the sphere of experience and enjoyment for everyone.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies”, said Jojen.
The man who never reads lives only one.
George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Guest authored by Philip Shigeo Brown