“You can’t possibly buy any more books, we have no room!” -my husband, circa, 2015.
I have a problem, it’s a children’s book collection problem. As a teacher, I had a little stash of books that I had collected along the way and loved reading to children. The addiction snowballed when we had our daughter. I kept finding beautiful books that I wanted to read to her and began building up her collection. Scribble to School started and then I started collecting books for that too…and you can start to see where this is leading. I began segregating them into categories: ‘teaching resource books’, ‘special stories as keepsakes for my daughter’, ‘school readiness program books’. Pretty soon I had a toddler on my hands and well, now they’re all lumped together and so thoroughly loved and used.
I’ve always been a reader. I have fond memories of being taken to the local library and searching the shelves to see if the books I had been eager to read, were on the shelves. (This was also pre-internet so I also went there to use encyclopedias!). We were read to at school and the librarian made it so engaging. I just loved it.
Reading to young children is so important. There is a quote by Emile Buchwald that reads: “Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.” and while it may just be a quote…it does hold some baring.
- Increase children’s vocabulary, sentence structure, and confidence.
- Develop all aspects of listening.
- Develop speaking skills and vocabulary development.
- Look at the rhythmic, repetitive, patterns or oral language.
- Explore the construction of stories: beginning, middle, and end.
- Develop prediction skills: what will happen next?!?!
- Sharing books is beginning to learn to read.
(Palmer, Bayley & Raban, Foundation of Early Literacy).
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development conducted research which found:
- Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
- Reading to children 3-5 days per week (compared to 2 or less) has the same effect on the child’s reading skills at age 4-5 as being six months older.
- Reading to them 6-7 days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older.
So whereas parents do we begin, with storytelling and sharing books?!
Mem Fox has written a set of ten commandments and they are fabulous (you can read more here).
- Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud. From birth!
- Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times!
- Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.
- Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listener
- Read the stories that your child loves, over and over, and over again, and always read in the same ‘tune’ for each book: i.e. with the same intonations and volume and speed, on each page, each time.
- Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games, look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short
- Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it never works, it’s always a fabulous game
- Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books.
- Please read aloud every day because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.
My top ten recommended reads for all ages are (in no order):
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt- Michael Rosen
- The Pig the Pug Series- Aaron Blabey
- Giraffes Can’t Dance- Giles Andreae
- Thelma the Unicorn- Aaron Blabey
- Edward and Edwina the Emu- Sheena Knowles
- Possum Magic- Mem Fox
- Wombat Stew- Marcia Vaughan
- Hairy Maclary series- Lynley Dodd
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle
- The Gruffalo- Julia Donaldson
If you don’t already have one, go and sign yourself and your children up for a local library card…..you won’t be disappointed. It’s free and you can hire LOADS of books at one time and enjoy snuggling on the couch or in bed sharing stories.
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