10 Tips for reading aloud to your child

Babies and children learn about their world through play, language and using their imagination, writes Bernadette Franzoni

Picture books

Your child will love the intimacy of the two of you sitting together reading a book aloud to them. They will also love that one on one precious time with you.

10 Tips for reading aloud to your child.
Make sure you are both comfortable and that your child can clearly see the pictures of the book. If possible let them help you hold the book and turn the pages.

  1. Let them choose the picture book to read.
  2. Encourage your child to follow your finger (or you hold their finger) under each word on each page to help them begin to recognise words and sounds. Whilst you are reading your child can follow your finger, this tells them when to turn the page at the end of the text on the page.
  3. Use your voice to tell the story, depending on the story. Whispering for suspense. Loudly for surprise or to climax a point in the story or to finish the story. You can share the emotions of the characters and what is happening in the story by the tone and pitch of your voice.
  4. Make eye contact with your child. Smile, your facial expressions will also tell your child that you are enjoying reading to them.
  5. Ask your child questions about the illustrations or the story. Illustration E.g. Can you see the mouse under the leaves? Story E.g. Do you think the mouse will find his way home?
  6. Tactile books are great for the child and you to interact with the book. Younger children enjoy books that have flaps that lift up to reveal objects or characters. Or pages that  have different textiles to touch. E.g Fur of an animal.
  7. Choose shorter stories for 2 -3 years. Longer stories for 4 -5 year olds.
  8. Once they have read the book several times with you reading aloud. Ask them to read – tell you the story. This helps build their confidence, of public speaking, it develops their comprehension of language and helps them explore their imagination using their voice tone and pitch to tell the story.
  9. Have fun and let your baby/child see you enjoying reading together.
  10. Be prepared for your child to have a favourite, with requests to read it over and over again.

Your local public library is a great free source for picture books and most libraries have story telling sessions. During lockdown some libraries are providing a delivery service to some homes.

Classic picture books to read aloud.

Going on a Bear hunt – Helen Oxenbury (Action story)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle (Lots of food and holes in the book to explore – Days of the week)
Where’s Spot – Eric Hill (Lovely lift the flap adventures)
Where is the Green Sheep – Mex Fox (Fun adventure story to find the Green sheep)
Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell (Lift the flap adventure with a surprise ending)
Where the wild things are – Maurice

Have the picture books in easy access areas, at a height they can reach in your home for your babies/children to pick and look at anytime. There are also board books (stiff hard card books) for babies and even plastic books for the bathroom for babies to chew on