Thursday, 19 June 2014

Preschooler and Baby Play - Reading

My husband and I are big readers. Of old-school, paper books, not the electronic kind. We have bookcases in every room and go to the library at least once every three weeks.

So how do we encourage our children to be readers like us?

Read to them.

Every day. At the very least, we currently read two books before nap time and two books before bed time for our three-year-old; and two books during play time and two books during bath time to our five-month-old. This is a special relaxing time each day, a time for the whole family to bond together. It also teaches the children to love books right from birth.

Provide the right level material.

If the books are at the wrong level, the children are not going to enjoy them. They may be too easy and therefore boring. Or too hard and therefore boring! Each child has different abilities and you may find that children outgrow a book and then come back to it a year or so later with a new understanding. As a guide, select books at the following levels:

  • Birth - 1 Year ~ board books with bright colours, cloth books, textured books, lullabies, song books, bath books
  • 1 - 3 Years ~ short story books, board books, song books, rhyming books
  • 3 - 5 Years ~ alphabet books, counting books, song books, picture books, story books, rhyming books

Discuss the story.

Talking about the story helps children to understand. After all, they are not going to want to read if they can't understand what is going on. You can stop on each page to discuss what the story was about and to talk about the meaning of particular words. I mostly like to talk about the story at the end, to interrupt the flow of the words less. Discussion can be done even with very small babies - talk about the colours, the sounds, the textures. Later, you can ask children why things happened or what they think is going to happen next.

Give books as gifts.

I really believe that you can never have too many books. Giving a book as a reward encourages the child to associate good things with books. So we definitely use them as a gift. "You behaved really well at that wedding. Let's go to the book shop and buy you a book." "It was lovely the way you played nicely with your friends today. Let's go to the library and borrow some books." Letting children pick out the book that they would like also makes them feel special and makes them more likely to want to read it.

Let them read to you.

Since she was quite small, Miss 3 "reads" to us after we have read her books. Yes, she can't actually read, she is still at the level of just being able to pick out letters, but she tells us the story as she understood it. Sometimes we have to help her out, but small children have excellent memories. By "reading" the story to us, we can see what she took away from the book. Often this is a good way for her to question us about what happened at a particular point.

Let them see you read for fun.

Of course, children want to do exactly what Mum and Dad are doing. So seeing you reading makes reading cool. Even if you are not an avid reader, if you can put aside a couple of minutes to look at a novel, magazine or cookbook, your children will see you reading and want to do it too.

Make books accessible.

We have three bookcases just for the children. All at their height so that they can go and get a book out whenever they want. The books are sorted by level, so one case for board books, one for picture books and one for longer story books. This way they don't have to ask us for books and can get them out and look at them alone whenever they want.

In what other ways do you encourage your children to read?
Catch up on other activities for children

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