Reading: why it’s good for children
Reading and storytelling help your child’s development in many ways. These activities promote brain development and imagination, teach your child about language and emotions, and lay the foundations for literacy. Reading is also a great way for you to bond with your child and share time together.
Reading aloud and sharing stories is one of the most important and enjoyable things you can do with your child.
What you need for reading with your child
Reading with your child is all about having fun with books and spending special time together. All you need is a picture book that you and your child can enjoy together. You don’t need to buy lots of books – borrowing books from your local library is free and fun.
Your child might enjoy:
- books that have good rhyme, rhythm and repetition
- books about a favourite topic, like cars, fairies, insects or pirates
- lift-the-flap, pop-up, alphabet, shape, size and counting books
- books that use humour and have a sense of fun – for example, a character who uses a funny word, or who is silly or even ‘naughty’.
How to enjoy reading and book time with your child
Here’s how you and your child can make the most of book time:
- Help your child choose a book. It’s OK if your child chooses the same one over and over. If it’s one you haven’t read together before, look at the cover and ask your child what they think it might be about.
- Ask your child to hold the book and turn the pages.
- Read the story together. Point to words as you read them.
- Vary the pace of your reading, as well as how loud you read. Changing your voice and expression for different characters can also be fun.
- Chant or sing repetitive phrases and words together.
- Point to things in the pictures and name them, or ask your child to name them. Talk about the pictures and ask your child questions – for example, ‘What do you think happens next?’ or ‘Why is the baby happy?’
Some general tips for reading with your child
- Make a routine, and try to share at least one book every day.
- Be guided by your child’s interest. If your child wants to spend more time reading, that’s great. And if your child sometimes wants only one book or story, that’s OK too.
- Turn off the TV or radio so your child can focus.
- Hold your child close or on your knee while you read so your child can see your face and the book.
Adapting reading activities for older children or children with diverse abilities
As your child gets older and is learning to read, encourage them to use their finger to trace words as you read them or to point out letters and words. You can even play ‘find the letters and words’, especially the letters in your child’s name.
Point out punctuation marks like full stops, exclamation marks and question marks. Explain what these mean – for example, ‘There’s a question mark. When we see one of those, we know that someone is asking a question’.
All children learn and develop through play. Our articles on play and autistic children and play and children with disability are great starting points for adapting this activity guide for children with diverse abilities. You might also like to explore our activity guides for children with diverse abilities.