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
8 to 20 months
I like to hold books and look at the pictures.
You could take me to the library, let me hold the book as you share the story with me, talk to me about what is happening and let me help turn the pages.
16 to 26 months
I like to share stories with you and can find my favourite stories for you to read to me.
You could let me point to things or tell you things as you share my favourite stories with me.
22 to 36 months
When you read my favourite stories I can join in with phrases that appear over and over again. Let me turn the pages in the book.
Let me explore lots of books from the library or nursery. Let me use my toys to help me tell you stories that we have shared.
30 to 50 months
I can join in with my favourite stories and guess what might happen next. I can listen to longer stories.
I can talk about the places and people in the stories. I know books can tell me things. You could let me tell you my favourite story, or make up stories.
You could show me labels on packets and tell me what they say and use them to play pretend shops.
40 to 60 months
I use my favourite stories to help me make up my own stories.
I like to share different books like comics, stories, rhymes, poems and fact books with you. Don’t forget I still enjoy being read to.
You could play games with me that use letters or words, for example, 'I-spy'. (Make the sound of the letter rather than use the letter name).
Make a puppet theatre with me from a cardboard box and puppets from pictures stuck onto cardboard, lolly sticks, yogurt pots or wooden spoons.