Book Week – The value of reading with children
Reading with your child is undeniably the best thing you can do to support their development and later schooling years. Reading can enhance your child’s expressive language development and vocabulary, receptive language and comprehension, imagination and creativity, as well as attention span and focus. The benefits of reading and storytelling are massive.
Don’t be afraid to be silly. Read funny stories, put on silly voices, make books and storytelling fun and enjoyable for children. The best learning comes from play. When reading stories with children I was told a long time ago that children can hear your face and I completely believe that. By this, I mean that your expressions and the faces you pull have a direct impact on how you are reading a story and the emotion you inject in your storytelling.
Toddlers and preschoolers are not the only children to benefit from being read to. Babies from only a few months old can greatly benefit from being read to as they watch and follow the colourful pictures, as well as listen to you speak and tell stories.
It is probably easiest to ensure reading to your child occurs each day if it is part of the daily routine. I enjoy reading to my children before bed, perhaps you can read to your children when they are in the bath? Or even as they are eating their dinner. When it is part of a predictable routine it is then expected and is likely to occur more frequently. Audiobooks in the car can also be a fun way to encourage a love of storytelling, though research suggests that storytelling with a trusted adult tends to have a more positive and lasting impact on children.
Throughout your reading journey with your children, you’ll likely find there is a particular book they want to have read to them over and over. In our house, I think I’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar no less than a hundred times! This is a great thing! Although it might seem repetitive and exhausting to read the same thing to your child over and over, this demonstrates that they are finding something appealing about the story and are able to identify and express that. Though having a few favourites can be a good thing, we, of course, want to expose children to many books with lots of variety. Perhaps introduce a new story alongside the favourite if they’re not quite willing to move on just yet.
Books can be quite expensive. I’d rather bury my head in the sand than even consider how much money I’ve spent on hundreds and hundreds of books over the years for my own children and for the children I care for at Fit Kidz. But, I do consider books to be an investment and we hold onto them for many years and revisit books frequently. I’ve found op shops and charity stores to be absolute treasure troves for pre-loved books that are still in excellent condition which is also fantastic for the environment as we are reusing and minimising waste. Another often forgotten resource is your local library. Most libraries are free to join and books are free to borrow. Perhaps you can make it part of your weekly routine to borrow and return books which can also support a sense of community.
Reading with your child for only 10 minutes each day will impact their later schooling career greatly. Try to invest in this time and ensure you are completely present in that moment.