Creating a confident reader: why reading with your child matters
Reading to your child from birth until they leave primary school has been shown to improve both their reading and their motivation to read, so it's time well spent.
Showing the importance of reading
Children from households where books and reading are part of daily life learn by example that reading is an activity that gives pleasure and information.
If you read to your child, they will experience the pleasure of reading for themselves. By spending time reading to your child, you are showing them that reading is important to you both.
Experiencing the language of stories
Children who are read to learn to hear the rhythms of written language. So, for example, they understand the 'power of three' in phrases like 'He ran and he ran and he ran'.
They become familiar with speech in text like "Stop! Stop!" said Jack. "My feet are on fire." They experience 'story language' such as "Once upon a time" and "They lived happily ever after". This develops familiarity with sentences and language structures.
Children often have their first exposure to a rich and wide vocabulary through hearing stories. Even if they don't understand every individual word, children absorb more exciting words and phrases. They gradually begin to try these out in their own speech and eventually in their own writing.
Sharing the experience together
Sharing a book with your child allows you to share adventures and experiences in the safe world of the book. You can talk about what happens, how people feel and why people act in certain ways. You can make links between events in books and those in the children's own lives.
The shared experience of the book provides new ideas to debate and to think about together. This is a very bonding experience, because between you, you create your own version of the world.
For young children, in particular, time spent curling up with a parent and a book is often a special time. Sharing a picture book is a physically close experience, and sharing an understanding of the world of the book is an emotionally close experience.
Improving your child's reading
Children who are read to have a much greater chance of learning to read. They understand why people read.
They find the language more familiar. They're used to the idea of sharing stories and they associate books with close, safe times with their parents.
As children grow older, share books that are more demanding than the ones your child can read independently.
Your child will continue to enjoy all of the aspects of reading together that they enjoyed when they were younger. It's a win-win situation.
- When should I start sharing books with my child?
- How long should I read to my child for?
- How often should I read to my child?
- When should I stop reading to my child?
- Getting the most out of reading with your child
Last updated: 3 months ago