We all want to unlock a deep love of reading and stories in our children. To help spark the imagination and prepare them for learning and adulthood, as much as forging deep family connections.
To really capture that special magic that sparks growth and a desire for lifelong learning in your little one (for, as Victor Hugo puts it: “to learn to read is to light a fire”), it pays to focus a little on HOW you read to your little ones.
(Psst... also see the latest stories in our kids books this week.)
Stories are so magical precisely because we get to step in alongside characters and see the world from their eyes for a while. And a great place to start is to read with the full experience in mind.
It’s not about getting to the end of the book. Or discovering where the story goes.
Often, it’s about the journey. And that’s best shared through reading together.
Artwork is such a big feature of children’s books exactly because it helps younger children visually interpret the text they’re hearing. That’s why it’s important to actually stop and look at the pictures together.
Note the characters’ expressions – “see, he’s smiling and happy just like the story says…”. Or even the surroundings – notice how the text becomes a little foreboding when they reach a dark forest.
Sometimes, the images even relay a bit more information than the text is giving. These can be amazingly accessible introductions to literary devices like humour or dramatic irony, which really help with comprehension later in life.
See how reading develops imagination.
Children model their parents. And an act as simple as tracking as you read already teaches many things – Oh, you read from left to right! One word at a time! Pause at commas and full stops!
Not to mention it gives your child a visual connection between the sounds they hear and the words/text on the page.
Not everyone is gifted at voiceovers. And, in fact, you don’t have to adapt your voice for different characters. But just reading the text as natural speech – i.e. slightly louder for exclamations, reading faster or slower as the story needs, whispering when everything’s quiet – goes a long way towards bringing the text to life.
Most children’s books are written with rhyme, or a specific pattern or rhythm. And it really helps to familiarise yourself with the book before reading aloud – Tip: read every book over once by yourself first, so you know what’s coming and can adapt as needed.
We often speak of the value of picking stories that centre around common or familiar experiences, things your child can instantly associate with – see how to select books for your child. Especially for preschoolers. And that’s because comprehension is a big part of unlocking the joy of reading.
At bedtime, for example, it’s very easy for a younger child to identify with a character who is brushing their teeth and getting ready for – you guessed it – bed. Likewise, books set in a home, at play, in the garden or at the shops are highly relatable.
The simple act of remarking, “Hey, this reminds me of that time when…” or drawing a parallel between this and another story – “Hey, do you remember that other book had a cuddly bunny in it too?” shows your child how a proficient reader’s mind works to form connections between text and the real world/prior experiences.
We’ve introduced an exciting new feature in Nooksy. On top of our library of Nooksy impact children’s books for reading together with loved ones anywhere in the world, we’ve worked with early childhood development specialists to create Nooksy Tips.
Nooksy Tips is a new feature inside select Nooksy stories, that, as you read, will highlight specific extra details, taking points and discussion topics.
This is to help you, as a parent or grandparent, create even more engagement with your little ones, no matter how far away they are. So you get the most out of your precious shared reading time.