Read to them

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Ian Munro shares some tips on getting your child interested in reading early.

Ian Munro
Ian Munro

My wife recently added a quote I really like to the back of her business card - "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child".

She's a writer of children's books and the quote is from Dr Seuss.

Preschoolers absorb a tremendous amount of information at a remarkable rate and they can learn to read and generally want to learn to read.

So, talk, talk, talk and read, read, read to your baby, starting with the most brightly coloured books you can find.

Move on to picture books with only a few words to each page as toddlers are keen to keep the pages turning. Eventually, they'll be able to "read" the story themselves using the pictures.

• Look for books that have storylines or activities that interest them.

• Rhymes are great. They are repetitious and help children learn sound patterns.

• When reading, try to use expression and different voices - develop a dog and a cow voice, a witch and a fairy voice.

• Tickle them at the funny parts and hide under the blanket for the scary.

• Run your finger under the words so they learn the left-to-right, top-to-bottom flow.

• Get them involved by acting out one of the characters they like; by turning the page at the right moment; by completing sentences, telling you what the next word is or telling you the end of the story.

• Take one of their favourite stories and have them tell it to you by asking leading questions for each page. "Where did the giant go next?" "What did Katie see?"

• Change the story, voice, or character's name from time to time and wait to be caught out.

• Take something in a story and discuss it. "What made Sam happy?" "What makes you happy?" "What colour dresses does Susie like wearing?" "What's your favourite colour?" "Show me."

• When they interrupt with questions stop and answer them.

• As they get older take turns in reading each page. Stop mid-story and ask what they think is going to happen next.

• Take books with you when there is waiting to be done.

• Take them to special story-telling events that libraries sometimes run.

• Swap books with friends; visit garage sales and markets to build an inexpensive home library.

• Comics, puzzles and joke books provide variety.

• Recommend books or book tokens as birthday or Christmas gifts.

Since reading needs to be fun and a social time for all, always stop just before your child wants you to. That way you don't drag it on beyond their interest span.

Finally, have your youngsters checked for hearing and sight problems, which can be undetected barriers to reading progress.


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