I love reading.
One of my fondest memories growing up was reading under the covers in bed with a torch. I’d listen for my parents coming upstairs and would quickly turn off my torch. I mostly read Enid Blyton’s Famous five and the Secret seven and then later Malcolm Saville’s the Lone Pine club adventures. It’s so lovely to get completely lost in a story and not want to stop reading.
Even now I have to stop myself from reading too late at night. Just one more chapter then I’ll stop…
As a parent myself, I wanted my daughter to have this same love of reading that all my family have and luckily my husband is the same. So from about 2 months old we began reading to her in the evening after her bath. Now she couldn’t understand what we were reading – which was lucky as she would’ve been completely bored with her dad reading the screwfix catalogue! It didn’t really matter at that point what we read it was all about setting a lovely calming bed time routine and talking to her in that story kind of voice so she’d associate it with cuddles and stories as she got older.
Reading early means you can help stimulate your child’s brain to help build connections and develop language, literacy and communication skills.
As she grew up we often had to read the same story over and over and over and over again. We didn’t dare miss a bit or ad-lib to get through it quicker, she knew and we’d have to start all over again! When she was two my husband decided she could have two bedtime stories. She chose one and we chose the other. Then three at three years old he increased it to three stories and so on (We did have to start picking some really short basic stories at this point). I had to stop this when she started school as we now had a reading book as well from school and she was nearly five years old!
We probably read picture books longer than others do before moving onto chapter books, but my opinion was that there are so many fantastic picture books out there to read and loads of time to move onto chapter books. My daughter loved and still does information books which helped her understanding and encouraged her to ask questions.
Now don’t get me wrong we aren’t perfect parents when it comes to bedtime. Sometimes we have been too tired or ill or our daughter asks us, so we put on an audio story. I love that even now she’ll play in her room with an audio story playing or ask for one in the car. Now not all children like audio books as they need to actually look at the book as a visual stimulation. I’m definitely like this and find it hard to just listen and take in information.
Why keep reading to you child as they grow more independent with their reading?
You will help them to continue to access and understand new words in a context that is meaningful to them.
You will help them to understand plot and that stories have a beginning, middle and end.
You will help them to learn about sentence structure.
You will help them to develop the connections in their brain.
You can read stories that are above their current reading ability.
You can discuss word meanings, the plot, predict together what might happen and help them with inference by pointing out pictures and expressions etc.
You can help them to then play out stories and express their feelings with toy characters. This in turn leads to children having ideas to write about.
And as a bonus, vocabulary is a big indicator for future academic success. So the more you help your child learn new words, their meaning and a context for use the better your child will read and write when starting school.
Just read together!