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Here are some reading tips for your child. Remember that every child is different and all do things at different ages and stages and that’s ok.
Enjoy reading with your child as often as you can, wherever you are and from the earliest age.
For your newborn – from birth
Your new little baby is learning lots about the world from the day they are born. Their bond with you is so important and reading with them, holding and cuddling them and speaking to them all create positive attachment.
Tips for reading with your newborn:
Find a time each day where you read them a book, even if they are sleeping in your arms.
Hold them close and let them touch the pages.
Little babies are not able to see colours very well, so black and white picture books are great to grasp their attention.
If you are finding settling your baby hard, bed time books are great to include in your routine.
Singing nursery rhymes and songs are great for your baby to hear you and get used to your voice.
Mimic any sounds and expressions your baby makes.
Keep books in your child’s play area and in your nappy bag so your baby knows they are for play.
For your baby – from 6 months
Your baby is now sitting up and might be rolling and starting to really play with toys. All of a sudden time feels as though it is flying past and your baby is now ready and wanting to be involved when you read.
Tips for reading with your baby:
Find a time each day where you read them a book.
Hold them close and let them touch or turn the pages.
Babies love books with sounds, panels to touch or flaps to lift, read and guide your babies hand over these parts of the book.
Babies love to laugh and see you smile and make funny noises. Choose books that have animals where you can roar like a lion or neigh like a horse.
Nursery rhymes and songs are great for your baby. You might find them learning to clap or pat their knees along with your tune.
Talk to your baby, tell them all about what you are doing and immerse them in a conversation.
Place books in your child’s play area, on the play mat, in the bookshelf, near the toy box so once they are moving around they can go exploring and find a book.
For your crawler – from 1 year
Your baby is growing up so fast and might be crawling or even walking by now. They might be waving or pointing, babbling and saying one or two words like ‘ta’.
Tips for reading with your crawler:
Find a time each day where you read to your child.
Hold them close or sit beside them. They may be able to hold and turn pages on their own now.
Children at this age love books with hidden items like peekaboo, read along with enthusiasm giving them time to open the flaps or say ‘boo’.
Children love music and songs at this age, books that have song type words and make sounds are great fun.
Point to words and pictures as you read.
Information books are fun at this age, for example ‘Little Carry Books Pets’. You can point to the animals ‘Puppy, woof woof’.
Take a book out and about with you on your daily adventures, books are great entertainment.
As your child is learning to speak encourage them to copy your words for things, for example ‘Here is your drink. Drink, drink, drink. Yum.’ You can link this to your reading to, ‘Look Sam (boy in book) is having a drink.’
For your toddler – from 18 months
Your toddler is engaged by so many new things. They are enjoying exploring new places, playing outdoors, walking and saying more and more words.
Tips for reading with your toddler:
Find a time each day to read with your toddler.
Sit with them and let them hold the book.
Say ‘let’s read …’ If they are speaking encourage them to mimic you or ask you questions along the way.
Stop along the way in the story and ask them questions like ‘Look it’s a dog, what does a dog say?’ Give them time to answer you, they will be thinking very hard.
You might re-read the book a few times before your child is ready to move onto the next thing, this is great as they are really enjoying reading with you.
Have books in the car and pram for longer outings. Books with things to touch and feel are still very fun.
Your child may be very attached to a toy at home such as a teddy bear. Encourage time for your child to read to their bear. Teddy can also read with you when you read to your child.
Leave books in your child’s play area so they can go to them and read, look and play with them during their play time.
For your little person – from 2 years
Your little person is really growing into their personality now. They may be copying you a lot more around the home and dressing up, speaking more and more and perhaps discovering their ability to cause a scene.
Tips for reading with your little person
Find a time each day where you can read together.
Sit with them while you read.
Perhaps during one of your outings you can include a visit to the library, where you look at and borrow new books.
Your child may stop you when reading to clarify a point such as ‘Where is the dog Mumma?’ or say ‘Daddy, dog goes woof.’ Encourage and play along with them, ‘Where is the dog darling?’ or ‘Yes bubba dog does go woof woof!’
Singing songs and nursery rhymes such as ‘Hey diddle diddle’ are to make your child laugh and encourage them to sing along too.
Choosing books with fun characters can lead into your play time. For instance dressing up like a prince or princess, pretending to be a frog, or playing hide and seek like in the story.
Your child might be starting to draw and paint, you may like to draw pictures from a story they love or find a coloring in book of a character they like, such as Spot.
If your little person is tantrumming a book is a nice way to come back to playtime. Sitting with them or holding them and reading can help them recover and move on.
For your playful one – from 3 years
Your playful one is such a character now, running and climbing, enjoying playing with friends, asking lots of questions and becoming much more independent.
Tips for reading with your child:
Find a time each day where you read with your child.
Allow your child to suggest times where they may want to read.
Encourage your child to read a book during the day on their own. They may commentate a book they know with their own words, this is a great sign that they are understanding what they read.
Find time to go to your local library and check out new books. Some libraries might have a special reading time for your age group which makes for a fun activity.
Make up stories with them from books you may have read such as ‘Can you think of another adventure Peter Rabbit might have in Mr McGregor’s garden?’
Point out words and symbols when you are out and about. ‘Look the sign says STOP we better STOP now.’
You might have an artist in your house, when they draw or paint places and scenes from stories. You can make puppets to role play the story against their painting.
Singing songs and nursery rhymes are still so fun! You might want to put a CD in your car or have music playing at home during play time.
For your pre-schooler – from 4 years
Your pre-schooler is enjoying life, discovering new things every day, curious and inquisitive. Reading is so much part of their routine and they may have some special interests that might help you with their reading choices.
Tips for reading with your child:
Find a time each day where you read with your child.
Encourage your child to direct the kind of books they enjoy reading, such as a special interest in frogs or a series of books.
Find time to go to your local library and look and borrow new books.
Make reading an active part of their play time. Keep a comfy spot and books ready for some time out to read with you, with a friend or sibling or on their own.
Allow your child to read to you, they may read a story they know or make a story up along the way.
Your child may be learning letters of the alphabet, when reading you may find an opportunity to say ‘oh what letter is that?’
Your child might be wanting to write their name or letters of the alphabet, allow them a place and materials to do this.
Your child may be interested in sending letters, you can make a letter box out of an old cereal box and send each other letters and pictures. You can put words like Mum, Dad, Nan, Pop on a post it note near their table so they can copy it.
Your child may paint pictures that are stories in themselves, you can write down what they explain to you and over time make a book of your child’s stories.
Singing songs, nursery rhymes, making up new songs are so much fun. Encourage this and sing along too!