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Reading with children

Supporting your child’s learning and development does not have to wait until they start school. Make time to read and enjoy stories together everyday.

Start reading with your baby when they are around 3 months old. Remember that for babies reading is like play - hold them in your arms and let them wave the book around.

Once your baby sits up, choose board books with rounded corners, bright pictures and textures to feel. From about 6 months, babies love lift-the-flap books.

Be guided by what makes reading fun for you both and use the pictures as well as the words.

Share rhymes, songs and stories with your child. Children who know lots of songs and rhymes when they start school are much more likely to learn to read and write more easily than those who know fewer rhymes.

Research proves that children who enjoy reading do better at school in all subjects.

Top tips for reading with young children

Try these top tips for encouraging reading:

  • turn off the television so your child can hear you and can concentrate on enjoying the book
  • younger children may only be interested in sharing a story for short periods of time, while slightly older children may be readier to listen for longer
  • always have books around so that you and your children are ready to read whenever there’s a chance
  • join your local library – get your child a library card and allow them to pick their own books, encouraging their own interests
  • read again and again – encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems
  • bedtime stories – read with your child at bedtime, it's a great way to end the day and spend time together
  • for many children, especially boys as they get older, non-fiction books are more interesting than fiction
  • role models are important - make sure children see the adults in their lives reading
  • make it fun - don’t be afraid to use funny voices - children love this

What your child can do