As adults, in our busy lives, it becomes easy to forget about reading for pleasure. But reading to our youngsters can be so much more than just enjoyment, as it can create so many more learning opportunities for them.
BONDING AND RELAXATION
There's nothing better than using a calming favourite story as part of your little ones bedtime routine. These are the moments children remember; cuddled up with the person they love and sharing a familiar tale together.
Despite us as parents feeling the desperation when our children select the same story over and over and over again, there are many benefits to reading the same story many times over.
It is often these stories where our children will begin to learn the structure of stories as they start to recognise how characters are developed, heroes introduced, a big problem presents itself and then the hero comes to the rescue for the happy ending.
Reading together is another great bonding activity for siblings to enjoy together, at a calm and relaxing point in the day, like bedtime.
Having your older child read to their sibling also has benefits for both children, as it allows the older child to feel like the 'expert'; demonstrating what they can do to their little brother/sister and showing them that if they read like them that they too will develop these wonderful skills that opens up so many opportunities.
For the youngest child, watching their sibling show an enjoyment in reading will contribute to their own interest, as good reading behaviours are modelled and becomes seen as a fun activity.
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT AND ACQUISITION OF A WIDER VOCABULARY
Did you know that reading only one book with your child each day will begin their school years with an average 300,000 more words than those whose parents 'read to them at all.
Quite simply, the more we read the more likely we are going to come across new words. In reading together, the parent is then on call to talk about word meanings and put them into a context more easily understandable to your children's world around them.
EG. Rapunzel was 'devastated' that her hair had been cut. (That means really really upset, like when you were devastated when you couldn't go to Frankie's Party)
A child needs to hear the same word however, a number of times and in different contexts for it to embed to their memory and for them to use it accurately in their own vocabulary.
A good way of embedding this is to have a word of the week and see how many times your children can use it across the week.
Even beginning with picture books with your babies, you are pointing out objects, naming them and giving our youngest 'readers' a better understanding of the world around them.
ENCOURAGES THE DEVELOPMENT OF IMAGINATION AND STORYPLAY
Having taught Early Years for nearly a decade now, I see no learning more crucial to the imaginations of our youngsters than role play.
Children will often make sense of story structure and character development by taking on the role themselves. It is during this time that they use the story language heard in books (yes, the ones they make you read time and time again), and in their creative role play they are given the opportunity to take on those roles and really explore what they mean. Who are the characters? What are they like as a person?
It is also the perfect time for them to explore the concept of good versus evil as they choose which character they would rather play.
Role play is a time when children can forget the world around them and be whoever they want to be, so don't worry about them 'getting it wrong' or creating their own little narrative too. Maybe today they want to make Batman the baddy, or let the joker win. These are great opportunities to encourage them to think about the literary choices they are making though, you could always ask them to consider if the baddy ever wins. "if this was a real story in a book, do you think Batman or the Joker would win? What makes you think that?
For older explorers, you could even encourage them to write their own story down.
EARLY READING CONTRIBUTES TO DEVELOPING YOUR CHILD'S HUMOUR
Did you know that 'understanding humour' is a developmental milestone for young children and The Early Years Curriculum suggests they should have developed this skill by 3 years.