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Why reading is important

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Reading aloud and sharing stories with your child when they are young can help them develop literacy skills and learn about the world around them.

Having fun with words

Children learn words and language skills from listening and engaging in stories, songs and conversations. By reading aloud, sharing stories and singing with your child, you are helping them become familiar with words and sounds. This will develop early literacy skills and help them to go on to read successfully later in life.

Your child will pick up on your voice changes and expressions, so make sure they sit close to you when you read. They will also learn how to hold a book and gently turn the pages by watching you. As you read, try pointing out details in the pictures, asking questions or using funny voices.

Learning through stories

Engaging in a story is also a great way to get your child talking about what they are seeing and thinking. It can help them to understand emotions and feelings and learn the difference between "real" and "make believe".

Stories can also help them to deal with new or frightening experiences. For example, a book about going to the dentist or hospital can help your child learn what to expect in this situation. Having a conversation about what happened after a scary part in a book can help your child understand how to deal with certain events and position you as a role model.

You can encourage your child to become involved in story time by asking your child to choose the books they want to read or joining group story-telling sessions at the library.

Making story time fun

Reading aloud gives you a chance to be silly and joke around with your child while helping them learn and grow.

Putting on funny voices or changing the storyline lets you shake up story time, creating quality moments and making learning fun. It can be a great way to encourage kids to look forward to reading with you.

Goofing around can make special time for you and your child to bond and shows that reading is important. By showing that you enjoy story time, you are helping your child develop a love of reading too. Using different voices and being dramatic also shows your child how words can be used differently to make new meanings.

Keeping the interest

Using funny voices and plot twists helps to keep your child’s interest in the book and reading.

You can encourage your child to join in by:

  • suggesting ideas for the story line
  • choosing how a character’s voice sounds
  • repeating words back to you
  • using gestures, clapping and acting out events
  • using funny facial expressions.

Your child can try to mimic your actions and voice or come up with some of their own.

Focusing

While getting active and excited can keep the interest, it’s important to have quiet and calm reading opportunities as well. This allows your child to focus on the words and sounds and develop their literacy skills.

Location, location

Using different locations to read with your child can also help keep things fresh. You could go outside or bring a book to the beach or to the shopping centre. Reading a book with places and events that your child can relate to can be a great way to start conversations about the story.

Before you start

  • Let your child choose the book.
  • Find a quiet place where you can sit side by side.
  • Make sure you can both see and touch the book.
  • Look at the front cover and title and talk about what the story might be about.

While reading

  • Use your funny voice, jokes and sense of humour.
  • Read slowly and take your time to discuss the images or talk about what is happening along the way.

After the story ends

  • Your child might want to flip back through the book to explore different sections or ask questions.
  • Ask them what was their favourite part or what they would change in the story.

Having trouble choosing what to read? Check out some ‘must reads’ on the Premier's Reading challenge website.

Children sitting and reading together

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Last updated 30 October 2020