It is never too soon to cuddle up with a good book together. So here are some top tips for happy readers.
Share books with your baby …
Your time and attention is what your baby craves most and added to the physical closeness of looking at a book together, your baby will associate books with pleasure right from the start. Good books to share with babies include those with textures, flaps and pop-ups, photographic books and books full of everyday objects. Talk as you look at the book together and ask questions, even though you have to answer them yourself at this stage: it all helps your baby develop listening skills and by simply watching you turn the pages your baby is learning how books work.
… and with your toddler
The pleasure associated with sharing books doesn’t diminish as your baby develops into a toddler; in fact, it increases. Your toddler can hold the book and turn the pages and will begin to have favourites. Encourage them to talk about books: which is their favourite and why? Try to link the books you read together to events or people in their own life. Good books to share include picture books with large, clear illustrations and books which describe first experiences such as a trip to the dentist.
There is lots you can do to help children move towards learning to read. Talk with them about what they think might happen next in a story or ask them to retell the story in their own words. Have fun acting out stories together. Focus on the sounds of spoken language by playing games which point out similar sounds in different words, for example, how many things can you find around the house which begin with the sound /p/? Share favourite rhymes, letting children supply the rhyming word or encouraging them to choose their own silly rhyme. Help children to understand that the black marks on the page mean something, that they represent the words and sentences we speak. Point to the words as you read stories. Look for fun things to read every day – the back of a cereal packet, the name of a shop, traffic signs. Read alphabet books together to make the link between the sounds used in words and the letters used to write those sounds. Good books to share include rhyming books, alphabet books, a wide range of exciting stories and non-fiction books about favourite subjects.
Top Tips for Reading Together
Pictures are important. Look at them, talk about them, it’s all part of the story; don’t just concentrate on the text. When you are reading, point to the words to show the connection between what you are saying and the printed text. Talk about the story. Ask your child which part they liked best and why. Ask them why they think a particular character acted the way they did. Talk about the different parts of the story: how did it start? what happened in the middle? was it a good ending? Ask your child to point out letters or words he or she might recognize. If a book features repetitive lines, let your child finish them for you. Remember that not all children develop an interest in reading at the same time. Don’t make reading a chore or a test. Make sure you have set aside time to sit down together with a book and have fun. Let your children see you reading for pleasure.