Encourage a love of books

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Just about anyone can teach a child to read with some flashcards but it is quite another thing to teach them to love reading. If your child learns this skill then you will never have to battle with them later in their life trying to get them to sit down and read for homework. Even though your toddler is not able to write or even speak in full sentences yet, they are able to enjoy a good story and to be stimulated by the wonderful pictures and feel excited with the quality time that you are spending with them.

Follow these simple tips and get your child to see that reading is fun

To start with:

  • Choose hard board books that will not rip or tear for younger children.
  • Choose brightly coloured picture books that will attract their imagination.
  • Choose a story with a good rhythm, even of they don’t understand all the words they will love the repetition of a good rhyme.
  • Choose stories with illustrations of animals and people they will be familiar with; for example, a cat, dog or postman.

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Join the library

  • Not sure what books to start with? Take a trip to the library and choose a variety. Most libraries let you take out 6-8 books and even have hard board books for your younger children to try.
  • Once you know what your little one likes to read then you will know which types of books to buy, this way you will not waste money buying books they do not like.

Create an atmosphere

  • Always sit down together, either the child sat on your knee or cuddled up close.
  • Include it into your bedtime routine and read a story just before they go to sleep.

Be expressive

  • When you read the story show excitement in your voice, make it interesting to listen to.
  • Try to create silly voices

Keep repeating

  • Toddlers love to hear the same story over and over again.
  • Over time they will begin to memorise words and will quickly be able to point to the owl or dog in the pictures.

Don’t read it exactly as written

  • If your child is getting bored then summarise it in your own words.
  • Add your own commentary and explanations of what is happening.
  • Stop and ask questions

Ask questions

  • Once your child can sit through a story begin to ask them questions about the pictures. For example, What sound does a dog make? or Where is the squirrel? To begin with you will have to answer but eventually as their language develops it will surprise you how many sounds they can recognise and how many images they can point to correctly.
  • Some great stories are by Julia Donaldson as many of her books have the same characters repeated in the background. For example, you will spot The Ladybird in many of her stories along with The Mermaid and The Fine Prize Cow. My little girl loves spotting her favourite characters in the background to more than one story.

GREAT STORIES TO START WITH

AGE 0-2

Short board books

  1. That’s not my… monkey, mummy, dinosaur, princess etc… by Rachel Wells
  2. Noisy Farm by Igloo books
  3. Hello Spot by Eric Hill
  4. Rabbits nap by Julia Donaldson

Picture books

  1. Anything by Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, What the Ladybird Heard, Room on the Broom, The Singing Mermaid.)
  2. Where the Wild things Are by Maurice Sendak
  3. The Tiger who came to Tea by Judith Kerr

Julia

Keep trying

  • To begin with your child may not want to sit on your knee and keep still but if you keep offering them the opportunity eventually they will give in.
  • Equally do not force it as they will learn to dislike it.
  • Even if you only read one page to begin with then that is a start. It won’t be long before you are limiting them to two books because they want to read more.

Follow your child’s interest

  • Do not feel like you have to read every word on a page. If your child is getting bored then ask them ‘where is the dog?’ or talk about what you can see on the page.
  • Sometimes your child will be more interested in turning the pages and that is fine, just read a little from each page.

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