The ability to read is a fundamental life skill and early access to books can be life changing.
Books offer so much to a child, and children need to experience books well before they learn to read so their first years of life is a great (and fundamental) time to start. Starting early can develop children into avid readers as they enter school and indeed adult life.
Access to books is obviously fundamental to getting a child interested in books but also the time-sharing books with an adult is fundamental as progress in language and early literacy is linked to time spent with adults reading. Books offer higher levels of language in them as well as opportunities for new vocabulary. They can help children make sense of the world as they see and explore new themes and concepts. Sharing a book with an adult is a special experience and can strength relationships and bonds as well as having an impact on the way children learn and succeed.
If we consider statistics a child who reads for 20 minutes each day will read for 3600 minutes in a school year which is the equivalent to 60 whole school days and have exposure to over 1 million and eight hundred thousand words. Whereas a child who reads for 5 minutes each day will, by comparison read for 900 minutes a year which is the equivalent of 12 whole school days. They will have been exposed to a fraction of the words – just 282, 000 words and obviously we don’t need to consider the statistics of the child who does not read at all.
So my top tips for creating readers are: -
1) Read, read and read some more! Read to your child EVERY single day! I like to read before bedtime as part of the bedtime routine. We select three books each night and share them together. This creates a wonderful wind down to the day as we spend quality time together. Reading doesn’t have to just feature at the end of the day as you could set aside a time first thing in the morning to share books or just before lunch. The routine needs to work for you but put simply you just need to read with them.
2) My next tip would be having books in accessible, easy to reach places. I realised at home that we only had books in the bedroom and so introduced a bookshelf downstairs -where they spend the majority of the day – and it was a game changer in the amount of books they read. I recently say a lady who had propped books up along the banister at the top of the stair for her child to discover in the morning. Similarly little baskets of books dotted around the house and even the car, as well as bath books, buggy books and books in the war.
3) Read as an adult. There is nothing more important to your child that you– the adult role model and therefore them seeing you read is important for how they will view reading. If your child sees you reading print (be it a fiction book, a magazine or even a cookery book) they will see the importance of reading but also have vital skills such as how to hold a book and turn pages modelled for them.
4) Bring books to life. Once your child has a few favourite books you can extend that love and learning by bringing the books to life. This can be done in the simplest of terms such as three different sized bears and bowls for Goldilocks or a farm playset including pigs and a wolf for three little pig.
5) Visit the library. The library has countless books and it is free to borrow books from. The library offers opportunities to get and explore new titles.
I’d love to hear if you try out any of these top tips to get your child living