Sunday, 21 September 2014

Reading books with children for Speech and Language Development

We all know we should be reading books with our children, we know that it is so important to their development, that it is the single biggest influence to success in reading and writing and that most children love being read to.
But just what is it about reading books with young children that is so beneficial for speech and language development?
  1. Firstly, babies enjoy being held, feeling safe and secure in your arms and being close to you. Babies aren't born with fully developed eyesight but their hearing is pretty much fully developed at birth and your voice is very familiar and comforting to them. This makes sharing books a lovely suitable activity for newborn babies. By starting book sharing at birth or even when they are still in the womb it can help establish a love of books and a passion for reading.
  2. Through listening to your voice as you read, babies and young children are hearing and thus learning the speech sounds of your families native language, preparing them for speech.
  3. Through listening to you read stories your child is learning about the rhythm of speech, timing, intonation and intensity which they will use as a model for their own speech.
  4. Sharing books helps develop concentration and attention span.
  5. Books help introduce new experiences, ideas and vocabulary.
  6. Children learn important book awareness skills such as which way up to hold a book and how to turn the pages from front to back, what a cover page and title page are and what an author and illustrator do. They also learn concepts of print such as identifying text and images, knowing we read text from left to right, top to bottom, that text remains constant and does not change and more complex skills such as knowing what a letter, word and sentence are.  

What type of books are best for my child?
The best books for this age are board or cloth books with simple, clear, real to life images. Books with repetitive and calming/ soothing language are great for building connections and a love of story time.
Some of my Favourites for this age are;
  • Kissed by the Moon- Alison Lester
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes- Mem Fox
  • Time for bed-  Mem Fox
  • Baby Ways- Better Beginnings
  • I Went Walking- Sue Williams
Interaction books are great for this age, such as lift the flap, puppet and touch and feel type books. Books with bright pictures and small amounts of text that represent familiar pictures, actions, themes and routines for the child are best.
Some of my Favourites for this age are;
  • "That's not my" collection by Usborne"
  • Spot books- Eric Hill
  • Noisy peekaboo books- DK
  • Dear Zoo- Rod Campbell
  • I Went Walking- Sue Williams
  • Heads and Tails- Matthew Van Fleet
  • Let's Cuddle Peter Rabbit- Warne
  • Who am I? Cuddly Animals- DK
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear- Bill Martin, Eric Carle
  • Where is the Green Sheep?- Mem Fox
  • Who is Drivind?- Leo Timmers
At this age books with simple story structure/ sequence are ideal. Children at this age often enjoy more imaginary themes such as fairies or space. They also start to enjoy books on topics of particular interest to them so it's good to make selections based around areas of interest for your child. They may also start to enjoy some simple non fiction texts.
Some of my all time favourites (as there are far too many to list!) for this age are;
  • Where is the Green Sheep?- Mem Fox
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt- Michael Rosin
  • Goodnight Goodnight construction site- Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • The very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle
  • The very Busy Spider- Eric Carle
  • Each Peach Pear Plum- Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Fairytales such as Little Red Riding hood
  • The Gruffalo- Julia Donaldson
  • I'm a Dirty Dinosaur- Janeen Brian
  • Hairy Maclary series- Lynley Dodd
  • No Matter What- Debi Gliori
  • Finger Worms and other books by Herve' Tullet
  • The Foggy Foggy Forest- Nick Sharrat
4years +:
Any and all that they are interested in. By now it is highly likely chiidren have developed a strong passion for books and have their own interests and are able to make selections based on this.

For more information on recommended books for children and research into sharing books with young children please check out the BETTER BEGINNINGS website.

I would highly recommend joining your local public library for an endless supply of books.

How can I get the most out of Reading Books with my child?
To start with make sure you choose your times for sharing books with your child appropriately. Most families often have 'story time' set in a routine, like before bed but this does not mean that is the only time you should share books with your child. Spontaneous book sharing is so important and can be just what your child needs to reconnect with you after a busy morning or a tiring outing or it just may fit in nicely to your play. For this reason We have books located all over our house making them easily accessible at any time.  If you are interested in learning how to make spaces for reading in your home click here.
For book sharing times it's nice to have a quiet space that is free from noises and distractions It should be comfortable for both you and your child so it's an enjoyable time for everyone. Never rush or hurry story time. If you are short on time and need to get on to other things, be clear with your child and let them know this. You could say, "I understand you want me to read to you, I would like that too. I will read one story with you now and then I need to hang out the washing. If you like we can read again after lunch" etc. This will allow you to both just relax and enjoy the experience with both of you having clear expectations.
In the first couple years
Talk about the pictures on the cover page and what the story/ book might be about. Read the title of the story. Introduce the Author and Illustrator.
Show your child how to turn the pages and then let them do it.
Point to pictures and talk about them. Encourage your child to point to pictures. Provide simple labels for objects. Add extra details.
Encourage your child to hold the book if they like.
Later on
Talk about the Author and Illustrator and what they do.
Ask your child just from looking at the cover what they think the story may be about.
Encourage your child to think about what they think might happen next in the story. Model this if need be.
Explain things your child does not yet understand that may come up.
Emphasise the words when appropriate and 'become' the characters. Try different voices and make it entertaining and fun.
Let your child join in with familiar parts.
Re- read the same story as much as your child desires.
Let your child choose the books.
Ask questions about things that happen, feelings, objects etc and engage them in the story.
Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy

Follow My Little Bookcase for book reviews and wonderful activity ideas to enhance your book sharing experience.


Wishing you all many Book Sharing times.