Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tips for reading with little ones

My son William has always had a love of books. We began reading to him when he was only about 6 months old and it has become special, quality time with him. I enlisted the help of a very special lady, my mother in law Linda, to come up with these tips on how to instil a love of reading with children. She also happens to be a professional!

"I taught in The Foundation stage all my teaching career. I think my favourite time of day was "Story time!" And my most rewarding moments were listening to children read and see that "lightbulb" moment when a child chose to spend their time in the Book Corner or ask if they could read to me, or see them read to a friend, a teddy or anybody else that would listen.

To know that they had started on a Literacy journey that would enrich the rest of their lives. The children who came into class with a love of books, poetry, nursery rhymes, in fact any aspect of the written word stood out like shining beacons. They could not "read" per sae but knew that books and stories were special. They knew that story time was a time for quiet enjoyment. They understood that they had to listen to get the magic.

Instilling a love of the written word in its many forms can be the best gift you could give your child. I honestly believe it is the key to every area of development and learning.

Albert Einstein said, "if you want your child to be intelligent read them Fairy Stories. If you want your child to be more intelligent read them more Fairy Stories!" Just change the words Fairy Stories to the wider spectrum. Fiction, non fiction, poetry, nonsense rhymes, comics, newspapers anything that takes their attention."

Top tips 

1. Start them young! 

You can begin reading to your children at any age. Even in the womb! Babies will love hearing the sound of your voice and as they get older there will be many opportunities for you, daddy and grandparents to have special story time with your little one.

2. Lead by example.

Children will always copy what their parents do. If they see you reading and looking through books this will encourage them too. As your children get to an age where they can read by themselves, why not have 10 minutes reading time in the evenings after dinner, where you also get your book out. 

"Children learn by example. A house with books, and reading seen as an essential part of life by all in the family is paramount. Be that model. Read yourself. Visit the library. Write stories with your child about their life so that the written word is seen as something personal, relevant and important."

"I honestly believe that when a child starts to read independently they should not be expected to read unknown text. When he or she has started school and a book comes home from their teachers read it to your child first. Maybe many times. Make reading a safe thing. A wonderful journey. Never let a child feel it is hard, difficult or something they can fail with."

2. Make it fun!

Try not to make it a chore; if you show excitement about story time it will rub off on them! Use silly voices, change your tone and volume of voice to make the story really come alive for the little ones. Involve others- be it grandparents, aunts and uncles, or their favourite teddy bear! Williams cuddly dog Buster loves listening with him! 

Discuss the pictures, ask them to point out the characters etc. When reading a book you have read before, try leaving out the last word of a sentence for your child to finish. This is easier with short, simple stories but is a great way of engaging children. William surprised us recently by being able to sing the whole of the song from The Smartest Giant! ... My tie is a scarf for a cold giraffe, my shirts on a boat as a sail for a goat.... 

"Read with expression, read with silly voices, read with love. Make it fun, a time of bonding, make it something to look forward to."

3. Get comfy!

Find a comfy place, wrap yourselves up in a blanket, (or if in dubai like us, relax on the balcony). Turn off any distractions like TV so your little one knows they have your attention and enjoy the quiet time together. We look at books throughout the day with William, but our main time for stories is just before bed. William is then calm, cuddled up in bed and we can lie down with him. 

"In this modern technological age there are so many ways of entertaining and educating your children. I am in no way saying these things do not have a place in young children's lives. They obviously do. But, nothing replaces close cuddles, either on the settee or in bed when a little one knows he has 100% of your attention. Make it a part of every day. Try and find a time where your child is in the mood. Children love routines and most of all, be prepared to read favourite books a zillion times."

4. Choosing a book.

William has his favourite story books that we end up reading over and over. Julia Donaldson ones are great as they often have a rythym and ryhme to them. The smartest giant seems to be Williams favourite at the moment. It doesn't matter what you read to your child really. It could be stories with a message or moral to learn or just down right silly, weird ones! Childrens poetry could be nice for a change too; I found a great book called Revolying Ryhmes by Roald Dahl

I try to take William to the library every week and amongst our choices of story books we always try to pick a non fiction book too. This week we have one about the ocean and one about the beach. We have also tried books about growing flowers, monster crafts, transportation, jelly fish and dinosaurs. I wasn't sure about this at first but William loves them! They are particularly good for giving inspiration for crafty activities too!

"Albert Einstein said "if you want your child to be intelligent read them Fairy Stories. If you want your child to be more intelligent read them more Fairy Stories!" Just change the words Fairy Stories to the wider spectrum. Fiction, non fiction, poetry, nonsense rhymes, comics, newspapers anything that takes their attention."

5. Get interactive.

Another way of engaging children with stories and reading is letting them experiment with them in other forms. William was given a CD player by his grandma and grandad for his birthday recently and has absolutely loved listening to story CDs on it. You can buy some fab story CDs now, just have a browse online. You can even borrow some from library's too. Nursery rhymes are also a winner! 

As Linda has said, you cannot replace the quality time spent cuddled with your child reading a proper book, but sometimes it's nice to mix things up. If I need a few minutes to myself during the day, William enjoys playing games on my iPad. I recently found a CBeebies story time app where you can read along and the pictures are interactive. Or maybe try watching a short film that has been adapted from a story book, like The Grufalo, Grufalo's Child or Room on the broom. 

However you do it, enjoy this special time with your little one! Sadly, when they are older reading together is probably one thing that will slowly disappear. I will be trying my hardest to keep this going as long as I can! 


  1. Some great tips. We have been reading to Baby E since he was just a few weeks old. Such an enjoyable and in my opinion important activity to do!

  2. Some great tips! I definitely agree that you should start them young. I have with all of mine and they all love books now x #readwithme

  3. absolutely brilliant tips,definitely ones I would suggest myself, thanks for sharing with #readwithme

  4. Really useful tips. Thanks for sharing. #readwithme

  5. Fabulous resource. Libraries are just great places for inspiring little book worms.


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