We all remember the struggle of getting through that home reader in the early years of school… Jack has a ball. Sally has a bat. Jack and Sally play all day... As parents and teachers, getting kids excited about reading can be tough. But research shows that book share in early childhood creates opportunity for the kind of interactions that fuel language development. Notice that we didn’t say “reading” there… Looking through a book, talking about what happens in the story, being read to and engaging with the pictures, these are the moments that nourish a child’s language before they acquire literacy skills. A child doesn’t need to be able to read to enjoy books and stories. All they need is time to sit and engage with a caring reader. Through the process of sharing books, children can develop their ability to understand and produce sentences, learn new vocabulary, and figure out how stories are put together. This learning is very important for success at school, laying a foundation for children to engage with their peers and share their experiences, as well as to understand and produce texts as they get older.
When to begin
You can start sharing books with your child the day they are born. It’s a good idea to have some time set aside each day just for sharing stories. It’s important that you and our child are not feeling rushed or pressured. If your child becomes a bit restless, bring the book share to a gentle end; pure enjoyment of the stories is key for engaging children in more independent reading later on.
Top Tips for Book Share at Home
o Ask your child what they would like to read… Help them to choose from a library or from some books at home. It’s ok if your child wants to read a book you feel like you’ve read a thousand times before! Children generally enjoy the repetition, and hearing the language in the story again and again helps them to learn it and use it.
o Find a quiet place where you and your child can sit side by side, so that you can both see the book clearly. Your child might like to hold the book and turn the pages as you read.
o Before you start, look at the front cover and talk about what you see together. What might the story be about? What might the problem be? Does the title give us any clues?
o As you turn each page, react to the pictures and wait for your child to respond. A simple gasp and pause before reading can stimulate some great conversation and generate interest in the story.
o If your child wants to just turn the pages without really listening to the story, it’s absolutely ok to let them do it. It’s important that your child enjoys the process of looking at books with you, and just talking about what you can see and the sequence of events is a great starting point. As your child learns more about stories, they may become more interested in listening to the text.
o Have fun! Enjoy being a bit theatrical as you read dialogue and cherish the time together.
For more info…
The following links have some helpful information:
Dickinson, D., Griffith, J., Michnick Golinkoff, R., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2012). How reading books fosters language development around the world. Child Development Research, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cdr/2012/602807/
Pollard-Durodola, S., Gonzalez, J., Simmons, D., Kwok, O., Taylor, A., Davis, M., Kim, M., & Simmons, L. (2011). The effects of an intensive shared book-reading intervention for preschool children at risk for vocabulary delay. Exceptional Children. 77(2), 161-183.