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Book sharing with your child

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Books chosen appropriately to share with your child can provide an opportunity to encourage language development and early literacy skills as well as togetherness and a calming time such as at bedtime.

Set the scene by choosing books that are appealing, age-appropriate and engaging. Remember, your child will also want to choose which books he wants to share with you. Offer choices and variety. Allow time for your child to explore the book.

Encouraging your child to participate actively in the book’s story teaches them ‘about books’. This includes the correct orientation, how and when to turn the pages and the language associated with reading eg: open the book, turn the page, lift the flap. Sometimes you might point to the print as you read, running your finger along under the words – this encourages understanding of left to right eye movement.

Sit together with the book and WAIT!!! Let your child respond first. While this may seem to take a long time initially, your child will respond. It may be by pointing, vocalizing or simply looking intentionally. You can then follow this lead and make the most of what your child is interested in.

  • Talk about the illustrations and what you think might happen (this encourages making predictions)
  • Build on the language your child uses. Eg: “Car” (child). “Yes, it’s a green car with black wheels” (parent).

Sometimes you may want to target specific language/concept development. However, always choose books which

  • are appealing
  • have clear illustrations which reflect the text
  • initially, have lots of simple language and use repetition but which are slightly ahead of your child’s language competence. This will provide opportunities to extend their understanding (receptive) and experience language.
  • provide possible opportunities for you both to ask questions (Don’t overdo this as your child can feel they are being ‘tested’.) Questions without explicitly right or wrong answers allow your child to develop problem – solving skills. Of course your child can ask as many questions about the book as he likes!

Remember that the text of the books you share should become more complex as your child’s language develops. While initially you may really only be ‘talking’ about the book, actually reading the text becomes important in fostering early literacy development. As your child’s language becomes more competent, choose some books that use repetitive phrases where you can start to leave out a word or short phrase for your child to fill in. This is referred to as word cloning.

Implementing these strategies in your book sharing times will support your child’s language and concept development and encourage them to regard themselves as a reader. These elements are vital for their continued success.

Should you require assistance in selecting appropriate books you can

  • take note of the books your early intervention professionals use with your child
  • borrow books to share at home between sessions/days at preschool
  • talk directly to the professionals working with your child or talk to the Co-ordinator/Preschool Director.

You can also visit your local library, to meet and talk with your Children’s Librarian (the title may vary). Libraries will generally have regular story times. Children who have any special needs can be accommodated by talking to the Children’s Librarian before attending their first story time. Story times include other activities which are related to the stories and other special events from to time. They also provide opportunities for meeting with other parents and young children.

Happy reading!

Information supplied by RIDBC Early Childhood Services (HI).
Reprinted with permission.
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