A book a day…but how?

We’re sure you’ve heard the advice many times over…read with your children.  And you’re probably aware there are so many benefits to sharing books your children.  It can strengthen your bond, improve their language skills, increase their attention span and lay strong foundations for later literacy development, to name but a few.  Ideally, you should share at least one book a day with your children.  But how do you make it happen when you’re busy juggling family, work, social events, sport and more?  The key is to weave it into one of those activities or routines that happen every day.  Bedtime is the first to come to mind but others could be during their bath or whilst having breakfast.  It doesn’t matter when, it just has to work for your family!

So, you’ve committed to weaving in a book a day, you choose one with wonderful intentions and thoughts of how it will pan out (a bit like the photo above perhaps) and rather than sitting calmly and listening intently your little cherub starts doing laps of the room!  Don’t fret, we’ve all been there.  Or maybe they sit but get bored part way through and just walk away or tell you to stop.  What can you do?  We’ve jotted down some of our top tips for sharing books with toddlers and preschoolers that help make it an interactive, engaging and language rich experience that hopefully keeps them coming back for more…

Tip 1
Bring on the actions!  Use puppets or props to act out the story.  Hand over control (and take a deep breath!) and let your child use the puppets or props too even if the story takes another path. Don’t have any puppets or props?  It doesn’t matter.  Get up and act out the story together…roar like the lion, flutter like the fairy, use your hands as the pirate’s telescope.

Tip 2
You can talk about the pictures rather than reading the text.  Finding games are generally a hit!  For toddlers keep it fairly simple – a toilet roll telescope and asking “where’s the…?” is all you need to do.  For preschoolers incorporate more language – the toilet roll telescope or a magnifying glass will still be handy then ask “can you find the one that…?” and describe the picture you’re looking at.

Tip 3
Our little people love seeing and talking about themselves so tap into this by relating the story or parts of it to their own experiences.  So if you’re reading Dear Zoo you could talk about a trip your child took to the zoo and look at some photos from it.

Tip 3
Point out new words in the story that your child may not know, talk about them and then use them again in different contexts when your with your little one.  To explain, if a new word from the book was the action word ‘leap’ try to keep that word in mind and use it to leap into bed, out of the car, off the chair, over a stick on the ground, over a puddle, into the pool.

Tip 4
We often fall into the habit of asking yes/no questions like “do you like trains?”, “would you eat worms?” “are you sad?”?  Try to shift to asking what are called open ended questions when sharing a book.  These are questions that require more than a yes/no answer.  The main ones are ‘wh’ questions e.g. what’s he doing, where’s he going?, who’s eating the cake?, why is she crying?, what might happen next? and ‘how’ questions e.g. how are they feeling?, how could we fix the boat?  Keep an eye out for our blog ‘Questions: the who, what, when, where and why”

Tip 5
Some little people love you to just read the text…over and over and over again!  That’s completely fine, albeit a little tiresome for the reader.  The added bonus is you’ll be able to recite ‘Where is the green sheep?’ at your next dinner party!

And the most important tip of all…

Relax and have fun!

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net