It is never too early to start reading to young children. Literacy is an important skill we can pass onto our children and something you and your children can enjoy for life.
Starting from an early age we can sit quietly, cuddle and read short stories to babies. It is a great for a baby to enjoy the flow of words and the sound of your voice. What a lovely way to bond with your new baby.
As your child gets older it is a great opportunity for you to start pointing to colours, shapes, animals and objects and encourage them to start to point and name images in familiar books you have read them. They will begin to copy the sound of the words and the flow of the sentences. Remember a parent is a child’s first educator!
As their own language increases around the age of one and a half they will mimic you and start to pretend to read books, so now is a great time to introduce thick cardboard books that they can be a little rough with. Allow them to experience the joy of turning the pages. If you are concerned about them destroying them pop into a second hand book shop or go to a garage sale and buy some second hand ones and keep their “special” ones on the shelf for when you read to them.
By the age of two and a half, three and as their language is exploding read more complex stories to them, they will follow along and ask questions as you read. Always make it fun and interesting and if they lose interest, it may be too complex so try another time.
By the age of four they will be able to retell parts of the story, this recalling is such an important milestone as they are retaining the information and thinking the story through. They are able to share it which is part of getting ready for school. This is also the age where if you skip a page they are onto you, especially if you are reading a book they have heard before. Be warned!
By the time they reach five they will be recognising some simple words so encourage them to read along with you. We find in the preschool environment if we pause while we are reading the children love to guess what the next word is. They can often tell from the pictures and also if they have heard the story before. This is a great pre reading skill.
We often encourage the children to act out familiar stories like 3 Billy Goats Gruff or Goldilocks and the 3 bears. This helps them to remember and share the literacy and language. It also builds confidence when they are at the front of the group speaking. We all know how nerve racking it is to speak in front of a group, so we recommend you start young.
5 Important things to remember when reading to your children
Remember to always make it fun and interesting
The book is age appropriate
Don’t make it a “chore”
Enjoy the cuddles and the intimacy that comes from snuggling up with a book
Literacy is a LIFE skill