Let’s Read a Story

Reading to your child is one of the most precious things you can do.  It relaxes not just your child but you. You are connecting in an intimate way that helps your child feel safe and secure. Reading to your child also paves the way for effective learning at school and later life.

Many people are unsure as to when to start reading to their little ones.  Some leave it to when children begin to say their first words but evidence suggests you should start reading to your child from day one.  Your little baby is born ready to hear stories, to feel your closeness and hear your voice.  By sharing songs, nursery rhymes, stories you are providing positive experiences that shape and stay with your child throughout their life.

Just as your child learns to crawl before they walk they need to hear language that encourages them to coo and babble before they can talk.  Even though your baby is too young to actually know what a book is it is the intimacy and bonding that is so important.  As your child gets older they begin to appreciate this precious uninterrupted time that is set aside for reading.  And the positive message they are getting along with the importance of reading is just how important they are to you!

Apart from the emotional connection your child feels there are many other things your child is learning while you read a story to them.  Issue 26 of the Growing Child Programme outlines these benefits as follows:

Vocabulary.  As you read, your child is acquiring new words.  Let them see the pictures in the book.  Point to an object as you read its name.  See if they can point to some objects which you name.

Information.  Your child is acquiring new knowledge and expanding the horizons of his mind.  Reading helps open a whole new world to your child.

Comprehension.  From books a child acquires new understanding of their world.  They perceive new relationships between words and can relate new knowledge to what they already know.

Listening and attention skills.  Reading helps to sharpen your child’s listening skills and improves their attention span.

Awareness.  As a result of you reading to your children, they will also likely to be more aware of and take greater interest in their everyday surrounding.

Sequencing.  From your reading your child learns about sequencing in time – (‘Long, long ago…’) and in space (‘In the first place sat…’) which are important skills for school learning.

Emotions.  Use expression and drama while you read to bring the story to life.  As your child identifies with characters in the story, they can sometimes gain a better understanding of their own emotions.

Love of books.  As you read to your child, you are imparting an important value in your life, namely your own love of books.  Be willing to repeat favourites again and again.  This is how children really learn flow of language and pre-reading skills.

Read to your child every day.  This isn’t always easy to do, but the habit, once instilled, helps create lifetime readers and learners.

Books truly are magical and provide so many benefits for your child’s social, emotional and intellectual development that stays with them throughout their life.  It is remarkable the benefits that can be achieved by taking just 15 or 20 minutes every day to read to your child.

If you would like some ideas on children’s books the SOOC team here at Lifestart did a book review during the summer on some wonderful books for babies and children.  You can check it out on their Facebook page.  One final note on the power of reading.  I can’t remember a single time there was ever a no when I said to my children ‘Do you want to read a book?’