How to Share the Magic of Stories with Children
A love of books and reading is one of the most important gifts we can give our children. When children connect with stories and books, they develop a natural curiosity about the world along with a sense of creativity and wonder. This will stay with children throughout their lives and help to support their learning.
A love of books and reading is one of the most important gifts we can give our children
It’s not just what we read aloud to children, but also how we read to children that will support the development of literacy skills. If we inspire children to see books as relevant and interesting, this will help them develop the intrinsic motivation they need to support them through the challenging process of learning to read.
If we think carefully about how we engage children when reading them a story, then we can naturally help them develop their language skills. The model of dialogic reading aims to inspire conversation around the book in a way that takes the child’s ideas and expands them further. A key feature of this reading style is to ask questions, repeat the child’s answer, and extend it further. So instead of asking simple yes or no questions, or asking children to label objects, think instead about how you can describe what they’ve labelled or link it to a familiar object.
There are a few important things to remember about this reading style. It works best when the child is familiar with the story. If we constantly stop and start a story, then it’s challenging for the child to understand the basic plot. So the first few times you read a book, you should aim to minimise the questions and disruptions and try to read the story as a whole. It is a good idea to ask questions before and after to help children to start to think about the book. Before you begin, you could ask them what they think the story will be about, and even peek at some of the pictures for a preview. Once the child is familiar with the story, that’s when you can stop on each page and ask questions that will help them gain a deeper understanding.
Even if the child you’re reading with isn’t able to answer questions, you can still talk about the story with them. Ask questions, and pause as if they were to answer you, then you can give an answer. Including lots of eye contact, pointing, and chat around the book helps to engage the child and further develops their understanding and learning of new words.
Involving children in the reading of a story also helps to develop their confidence and connection to you
Involving children in the reading of a story also helps to develop their confidence and connection to you. Children will love the time they spend chatting and interacting with you. As you ask questions, they’ll gain confidence in voicing their opinion and develop the sense that what they have to say matters. Reading and sharing books in this way will create loving and positive associations with stories. Not only will this help children on the path to literacy, this love of books and reading will stay with them their entire lives.
So this holiday season, take the time to cuddle up and enjoy a story together. Take your time with the book, read through it, chat through it, and share the magic together.