5 ways to make stories part of family life
I think most people would agree that having children interact with books either through being read to or reading themselves is a good thing. The fact that you’re reading this post means you are probably one of those people. But there has been quite an interesting debate happening recently about the importance of books and stories on a child’s development. With electronic devices becoming ever more prevalent in our children’s lives there is a risk some children may miss out on a key part of their development.
Reading enhances vocabulary and communication skills during the first 3 years of a child’s life when a large portion of brain development occurs
The American Academy of Paediatrics have just published a new policy that recommends reading to your children from birth. They believe that reading enhances vocabulary and communication skills during the first 3 years of a child’s life when a large portion of brain development occurs.
I have a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old and I can see in them already the difference in their speech compared to those of their friends who don’t spend much time around books. But beyond that reading with my children is one of the great pleasures of being a parent and something I will never say no to doing. Here are my top 5 tips for making stories part of family life.
Books, books, everywhere
Simply having books around is a very simple way to start. Store them at child level so they can easily get one when they want one. We have a Tidy Books bookshelf in our playroom which is great because you can see the front cover of lots of books and your child can pick the ones they want. But a simple pile or cloth bag of books is just as good as long as it is on the floor and your child can easily access it.
Repetition, repetition, repetition
A child learns something new for the first 3 or 4 times they read a book.
Sometimes reading the same book again can get a little tedious, but at a young age it’s the perfect way to help your child understand the story and words. I remember reading some research that suggested that a child learns something new for the first 3 or 4 times they read a book. They can’t take in the story, the characters, the emotions all in one go so it takes a few repetitions to sink in.
It’s a simple one but by simply reading a bedtime story every day you create the foundation for an interest in books. Taking that time to read a couple of stories establishes books as part of life and gives you some daily focused time reading to your children. We all have busy lives and it can be difficult to get that quality time during the day so make sure you take 15 minutes or so before bed to do it. This also has the added benefit of creating a clear wind down routine at the end of the day which for me is essential to help create a relaxed bedtime.
Bring the story to life
I never walk across a bridge with my children now without saying “who’s that trip trapping on my bridge” in a troll voice. By bringing the story to life like this you can show your child how they can incorporate those stories into their play. For me inspiring their imagination in this way is essential to their development. My daughter’s favourite stories to bring into play in this way are We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and the Three Little Pigs. Quite often when playing in the garden we have to run away so that the big bad wolf doesn’t get us!
Forget that you’re an adult
This one is a follow on from the above; pretending to be a troll while out in public can feel a little uncomfortable or embarrassing. But I think you have to be willing to embrace your inner child and take that risk. Your child will love it when you do (maybe not once they become a teenager) and quite honestly it’s fun to forget that you’re a responsible adult for a while.
All simple things but together they can really help getting your children involved in the joy of books and telling stories. I’m sure there are many other ideas too, please share any you have in the comments below.
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