The art of reading to children

by Christina Stephen

The art of reading to children

Many of us find the idea of reading to children quite daunting and you will often hear people remark that it is something they could not possibly do!.

Why not? Children will not be critical because they simply love sharing a story and will eagerly climb up next to you.

If you are feeling apprehensive, here are some great tips for you to use, but the most important one is to simply relax and enjoy yourself – you will not get marked out of 10 for your efforts!

Table of Contents

Children will start getting interested in books at 12-18 months of age and will often go and fetch one of their books to look at.

Encourage them to do so and set aside sometime each day to enjoy a book together. A book before bedtime is the classic way to settle children before they sleep.

As well as being relaxing for both of you, you will be nurturing a love of reading in your child that could well stay with them a lifetime. Choose the books to read carefully because if you try and read a book you don’t like, or it bores you, your child will sense this very quickly!

The art of reading to children – 11 helpful steps

Step 1.

First of all, get yourself nice and comfortable in an armchair, on the sofa or during the summer, on a rug in your garden or local park.

You want to ensure that reading together is cosy, relaxing, and fun. Give your child a few moments to settle down and focus on the book.

Step 2.

Look at the book cover together and read the title slowly, pointing at the different words. Discuss the illustration on the front cover.

Does it suit the title? Does it look inviting? Read the author’s name out loud. Have you read any other books by them? If the storybook is for a young child, choose one with bright, colourful pictures that are realistic.

Step 3.

If there are several characters in the story, try and give each one a different voice – don’t worry, there are no Oscars for this, but I would make sure there are no other adults around, or you will be teased!

If there are any particular noises in the story, encourage your child to try making them too! The idea is to make reading the book together very entertaining and enjoyable.

Step 4.

Begin the story and try to create an atmosphere – especially if there is a tense or sad moment – you can do this by changing the tone of your voice. If the story is getting exciting, reflect this in your voice, by slowing your speech and emphasising your words as this will build up the suspense.

Step 5.

As you are reading the story, remember that you are reading with your child rather than to your child. So follow the words with your finger and encourage them to recognise the main character’s name and other popular words such as ‘car’ or ‘moon’ as this will give them confidence and encourage them to recognise how certain words look.

Step 6.

As the story continues, ask your child questions about what is happening or how do they think the story will end. Reading with older children, you can ask them to describe the different characters and what they think of their actions and could they have done something better or more effective.

Step 7.

Some books have difficult concepts to understand, so it is worth ensuring that your child fully understands what the story is about.

Step 8.

Once the story has finished, ask your child, what was their favourite part and why?.

Step 9.

Help them to understand the emotions described in the book -for example, have they ever felt lonely like Little Bear?.

Step 10.

Plan a follow-up activity that is connected to the story in the book such as a walk in the wood or a picnic as this will strengthen the memory of the story.

Step 11.

It can be great fun, once your child is familiar with a particular story, to suggest that they read it to you!

Introduce new books to your child regularly. Start visiting the library, or regularly pop into your local charity shop to if any suitable books have been donated. Always keep one tucked out of sight in case you ever need to soothe a big disappointment.

Very quickly, you and your child will have several favourite books that you will read together countless times, but interestingly, they will become so loved that your child will be almost word perfect and will certainly spot if you try to shorten the story to hurry things up!

Thank You

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