World Book Day

Being a Better Bookworm

With World Book Day coming soon, Amanda Baxter, I CAN Communication Advisor considers how schools, settings and parents can encourage communication skills through the love of books.

Do you have a favourite book? I don’t have one favourite. I have lots! I usually have a thriller on the go, which I owe to my love of early Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. We also have different favourites from childhood memories to books that have made us laugh, cry or just told a great story.

We often worry about our children learning to read as we know how important learning to read is for getting on in life.  But did you know that the road to reading is through speaking and listening? What you can do is give them the best start with their talking and reading by helping them to be around books. If they are interested in the letter shapes and print in books, you can start talking to them about these and what they mean but the biggest boost to their reading skills is their ability to communicate.

We can show you how….

How to give your child a good start with reading

  • Look at a variety of books with them – fiction and non-fiction. This will give them experience of different types of books and support their interests. If your son loves football, a book about this will engage this interest. This might be a story about a character that loves football and wants to play for Spurs (fiction) or a book about football facts (non-fiction).
  • Be a reader – it doesn’t matter if it’s magazines, newspapers, thrillers or recipe books; paperback or e-reader. Showing your child that reading is something we do everyday and not just at school, demonstrates that it is important.
  • Word magic – help your child learn the most there is about a word: what we think of when we say it; what it means; what sounds it is made up of and what it rhymes with. That way you’re helping them to make the links between words, sounds and meaning.
  • Tell stories together: being able to tell stories is an essential skill that children need to develop as they grow older. We all tell each other stories about things that happened at school or at work every day (“You’ll never guess what happened to me today…”).  Our stories bring together lots of different communication skills, including using vocabulary and making sentences and it can be great fun to practice the skill of story-telling at home.
  • Word power – help your child develop their vocabulary by explaining new words to them.
  • Follow their lead: if they are interested in letter sounds and shapes you can talk to them about these and play games around these.
  • Sing nursery rhymes and read books with rhymes in. You can point out the rhyming words and talk about them.

Cornerstone: being book worms

Children also need to know how books work. This may sound simple but if you give baby a book they will play with it, chew it, rip it, bang it and play with it exactly like a toy. They are exploring it as an object, which is why we give them cloth books, bath books and chewable books so that they can become familiar with them through play. Children need to be shown that if you hold books the right way up the pictures make sense. These are all skills your baby can learn early on so that they are ready to move on to different books, at a later age.

Toddlers love board books and books with flaps. Many of these books encourage looking at pictures and talking about them together.  Others tell a story.  Either way, these types of books really help toddlers engage with books and bring communication to life. Toddlers will want to look at them over and over again… long after you’ve tired of the story! They may start by wanting you to read a story to them and then take the book and jump ahead. Or they may know the story by heart and know if you’ve skipped a page! The thick board books mean they can turn the pages as they’re still learning to do this and also means the books are less likely to get destroyed!

The 7th March is World Book Day. Find out more at www.worldbookday.com

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