Enjoy Reading with your Little Learners!
Here in the Parragon office we've been trying to recall our earliest memories of being read to as children.
I can remember how delighted I was to receive a box-set of short stories about frogs on my fifth birthday. I sat with my Grandad and made him read every book to me, one after another. They even had to drag me away to blow out the candles on my cake! The thing is it’s not just the books that we have fond memories of; it’s the people who read them to us.
The British PM David Cameron recently was quoted urging parents to read to their children more:
“Try to read to your children every night, however busy you are in life”*
Some may question the importance of doing this with toddlers and babies, who don’t fully understand the story concept, but the amazing truth is, children are never too young to be read to. In fact, studies show that the earlier babies are exposed to reading, the more they will enjoy reading and learning - and the better they will perform in school.
But more than just being a way of encouraging development, reading is a great way to interact and communicate with babies right from the start: stimulating their curiosity about life in a fun and engaging way.
Our vibrant new interactive range of books 'Little Learners' ('Little Me' in Australia), is aimed at children aged 0-3. When we were developing the series, we were lucky to have educational consultant Geraldine Taylor on hand to advise us. Here are Geraldine’s top tips for enjoying books with little ones:
• How pictures help:
Learning to read is part of a young child’s drive to make sense of more and more details. They need to have fun looking at lots of features in pictures before they can see that the letter a is different from the letter d, for example.
Later, when children are learning to read with their teachers at nursery and school, they will be reading books with only a few works on each page. It’s pictures, and the stories and rhymes that we read to children, that inspire them to want to learn to read for themselves.
• Words and pictures:
At first, children see words as black squiggle patterns on the page. It’s helpful to explain that we call these squiggles words and that they tell us what to say. It’s the words that tell you the story, and one day, when your child can read, the words will tell them the story, too.
• Talk and more talk:
Talking is a skill fundamental to life and learning, especially reading. Children need a stock of words they understand and use. Take the time to talk together all you can! Talking about stories, rhymes and the pictures on the page is great for developing this skill.
• What’s that sound?
Being able to listen, interpret and respond to what we hear is another vital life skill, and essential for reading, too. Our alphabetic reading system is built on being able to tell one sound from another. Play lots of listening games with your toddler (ssssh, close your eyes, what can you hear?), and have fun with sound effects. Go out listening and talk about what you hear in the garden, on a walk, at home. Story and rhyme books are ideal to develop listening skills, as they introduce sound effects for the characters – especially the animals!
* Source: London Evening Standard, 2012 http://bit.ly/zmN8nf