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Storytime

Storytime
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Spending time reading with your child is one of the most enjoyable and nurturing activities you can do together

It's never too early to introduce your child to the world of books and stories.

Many studies show that reading to children regularly is one of the best ways to expose them to language, which in turn gives them a social and educational head start. In fact, the more you read to your child, the greater her future reading and cognitive skills will be.

So how does reading help your child?

Making books and stories part of your child's everyday routine has significant advantages.

  • Reading to your child each day helps her grow accustomed to the patterns of speech and language as she listens repeatedly to sounds and words.
  • She also expands her vocabulary and, over time, her understanding of words, further enriching the pleasure she gets from listening to stories.
  • Spending time sitting together and sharing stories nurtures your relationship. Your on-the-go toddler or pre-schooler rarely has time to sit still. Building in a quiet reading time gives you both a chance to slow down and enjoy being together.
  • Bedtime stories can become a cherished time, when you both wind down at the end of the day and snuggle up to enjoy a favourite book. Your child feels safe and loved, which in turn teaches her to connect books with pleasurable feelings.
  • Making books part of your child's everyday experience helps her to discover that reading is fun. Moreover, sharing books early on is the first step to your child becoming an independent reader and nurtures a life-long love of reading.
  • Handling books and turning pages helps your toddler and young child to hone her fine motor skills.
  • Looking at first books together helps her start to understand that it's not you making up stories, but the written marks on a page that form letters and words. Over time, she will start to recognise the different letters of the alphabet. Her brain will be busy making these new connections, which she will continue to use for language and thinking.
  • Your child discovers the world of stories and make-believe. As she gets older, books will fire her imagination and encourage her to create her own unique stories and mini worlds.
  • Over time, your child can discover other types of books, such as information books that enable her to explore favourite topics.
  • Sharing books is a great way to explore emotions. Books about particular events such as moving house, welcoming a new sibling or going to a new school can help your child understand these changes and find ways to deal with them.

Engaging your child

The way your child interacts with stories and the books she enjoys will change and evolve over time. Choose age-appropriate books that are tailored to her developmental stage to maximize her enjoyment. Make storytelling fun and engaging:

  • Read with animation and expression to bring the story alive and make it a pleasure to listen to. Read slowly too, so your child can catch the words and meaning.
  • Choose stories with rhymes, songs and repetition. Your child will love the simplicity and rhythm of these, and they help her develop an understanding of sounds and how words begin and end.
  • Choose durable board books for younger toddlers that will withstand being chewed and bashed.
  • Choose short books with plenty of engaging pictures. Look for subjects young children enjoy such as animals, children, families and transport. As your child gets older, you can start to introduce slightly more complex stories with events and narratives they can relate to, such as making new friends at nursery, and with adventure-based tales.
  • Visit the local library, the perfect place for building children's literacy. Make this a fun trip and get your child involved, asking her how many books she wants to borrow and seeing if she wants to choose one or two herself. Check the notice board for story times and activities for young children.
  • Be prepared to read the same story again and again. Toddlers and young children love repetition and will often want the same book read for weeks at a time. This may drive you a bit crazy, but one study showed that repeated exposure to the same book helped cement vocabulary.
  • Feel free to veer from the story. Talk about the pictures and point to and name different characters and objects. Ask your older child what they think happens next and welcome questions from her.
  • Make it lots of fun. Use actions, funny voices, finger puppets and anything else to entertain your child.

Reading together will become a looked-forward to part of your child's day and engender a life-long interest in books, one of the most valuable things you can give her.

Keep reading fun, natural and never hard work. Let her choose books and make them part of her everyday environment, with books in baskets and on low shelves for whenever she wants a browse.

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