Tips for reading with children of all ages
A range of tips for reading with children of all ages
Sometimes when we are tired and burnt out it's hard to remember why reading is so important, but babies and children love books.
Ruby has spent the last 9 months carrying over to me cardboard books to read over and over again. Her current fave is ‘Where is the green sheep?’. As kids enter different stages of development, the way they enjoy books and the way they interact with reading changes. Here are some of my tips...
Tips for reading at different ages
Reading with babies (3mths to toddlers):
Books provide babies with wonderful sensory stimulation. We often think of visual and auditory but there are an incredible range of touch and feel books out there that also stimulate a baby's sense of touch and proprioception. The 'That’s not my….' are a great place to start. You can gently guide small babies' hands and as they get older they will love to reach out and touch themselves.
Start small, even if it is just a minute or two at a time. Some babies and toddlers enjoy sitting still and listening to stories. While others are curious about exploring their physical world and learning to use their bodies. Both are beneficial for baby and toddler development, so if your little one is on the go, you can still encourage them to start off sitting for small periods and then continue to read to them while they move around. They will still get all the language and social emotional development from you.
When reading, point out familiar features of the books. E.g car, house, dog, etc. This will help a baby with their speech development and vocabulary.
Reading with older babies and toddlers
As little ones grow, their physical skills are still developing. Encourage older babies and toddlers to turn pages (with or without help). As their speech develops, encourage them to repeat words as you point out familiar features and begin to introduce more words, animals, shapes, colours etc.
Repetition is key. Don’t worry if your toddler loves reading the same few books over and over. This is important for language development. Use your voice to make the books engaging — by fluctuating your voice as you read, you can introduce emotion and further enhance children’s social and emotional intelligence.
Finally, make it personal. Relate parts of the book to their life where possible. E.g. "Pig the pug is a dog, what’s your dogs name?" Etc. this helps them relate stories to everyday life. As they get older you can also ask more comprehension style questions e.g. "How do you think Trevor felt?" This helps toddlers to start recognising emotions in other people.
Reading with pre-schoolers:
Reading with pre-schoolers is so much fun! They can sit for longer periods of time, can answer more complex questions and are starting to naturally fill the gaps in the stories.
If you are showing them a new book, encourage them to do a picture walk first where they look through the pictures and try to come up with a possible story to match. Then as you read or at the end of the story, make time for further questioning. Try to have a little bank of questions that you ask that are open ended, you can throw in naturally (conversationally) and can be applied to lots of books such as:
- Tell me about what …. is doing?
- Why do you think this happened?
- What will happen next?
- How did this happen?
- How is …. feeling?
- Why do you think…?
- How do you know…?
Bonus tip: I found with Freddy that I had to word these in a way as if I was curious. If I was too formal in asking questions, he'd disengage a bit. However, when we were discussing it conversationally, he was very keen to share his comprehension of the story.
Encouraging reading with children:
As your child enters school, they will be taught a great range of decoding strategies for reading unfamiliar words. Encourage your little one to read out loud in a clear voice. Sometimes if they aren’t feeling confident, they tend to go quiet but praising attempts to self-correct goes a long way in fostering a love of reading in your little one.