How Do I Help My Kid Enjoy Books?

A parent asked me the other day, ‘how do I help my kid enjoy books?’. Of course, my ‘quick’ reply ended up being a complete essay, because supporting early literacy is one of my passions! It can be tricky to help babies, toddlers or pre-schoolers connect with books and story time as their little bodies want to practice moving, and they are busy busy busy.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Involve your child in choosing the story. If you cannot take one more repetition of a particular book, lay out two of your favourites for your child to choose from.
  • Let the child hold a special toy, as this can help them find a calm moment. A texture to run their fingers across can be great too.
  • Be as creative and silly as you like in reading the story. Funny voices are a wonderful to engage their interest, and show that books aren’t dry or boring.
  • Involving them in turning the pages can be great to draw them back in, as well as practicing coordination and timing.
  • With repetition your little one will learn elements of the story, so encourage them to jump in and act out or recite the bits they remember. For pre-verbal kids it could be as simple as making a funny sound each time you find the character on the page, and encouraging them to do the same.
  • Asking what they can see on the page, counting all the birds, etc. Finding all the yellow things, etc.
  • A book doesn’t have to be read sitting down, it can be acted out, read while standing, etc.
  • You could go on a tour of your house, reading a section of the book in each different room – and don’t forget the garden!
  • But ultimately, your child doesn’t need to be sitting still to learn. You may be surprised to discover how much your little one is learning while they are rolling around on the floor, etc.

Your child (or you!) might be ready for some new books:

    • Books for Sharing: this blog post has some tips for grandparents or other special people to connect with your little one through books, plus a list of books for sharing.
    • Books That Celebrate Diversity & People of Colour: I love that we have so many cultures and different kinds of families in our community. A wonderful Mum in our Leading Note community wrote a blog post about the practical things she is doing with her son to celebrate diversity, including a list of books.
    • I love to support independent books shops, and highly recommend the children’s specialist teams at The Younger Sun Bookshop, The Little Bookroom, Hill of Content and Readings. It doesn’t matter how obscure your child’s area of interest may be, I bet these guys can find the book for you!

It’s worth giving everything a try as each child is so different, and each child is interested in different things day to day.

Remember, you know your child best, and I’m sure you will come up with wonderful ideas too.

Let me know what works for you! – Sophie

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