Why is Reading Important?
Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.
In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
Building Vocabulary and Understanding
Learning to read is about listening and understanding as well as working out print. Through hearing stories, children are exposed to a rich and wide vocabulary. This helps them build their own vocabulary and improve their understanding when they listen, which is vital as they start to read. It’s important for them to understand how stories work as well. Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out, copying what they have heard.
As children start to learn to read at school, you can play an important role in helping to keep them interested in books, finding out what interests them and helping them to find books that will be engaging and fun for them. Give time to helping them practise reading the books they will bring home from school.
Helping Your Child to Read
Getting Children Ready for Reading
We can help prepare children for reading by:
- sharing our enjoyment of books
- teaching children nursery rhymes and songs
- teach the alphabet through songs and games - but focus more on the letter sounds rather than letter names when you are doing reading activities
- talking about stories and using story language
- using clues in the pictires to help them understand the story
- helping them to recognise common words by sight
- developing a knowledge of 'phonics' (how sounds are represented by individual letters and combinations of letter)
- using the 'context' (what comes before and after a word in the sentence or paragraph) to help make sense of the story.
- pointing out signs and logos when you go shopping
Starting to Read
- Try to make time to read with your child every day.
- Read favourite stories again and again.
- Build confidence by re-reading books.
- Be relaxed and enjoy reading time with your child, that will give a very strong message about what fun reading is.
- Use the bedtime story as an opportunity for you to read to your child.
- Talk about the title and the pictures on the cover
- Look through the pictures together
- Discuss what you think the story might be about
- Read the story first to your child pointing to the words as you read.
- Re-read the story with your child encouraging them to join in with repeated phrases.
- Talk about the pictures and discuss what's going to happen next.
- When you have finished reading the book; ask questions like: What was your favourite bit? Why do you think they were happy? Has that ever happened to you?
- Play can you find games - e.g something beginning with the sound 'd'
- Talk about the books your child is reading.
- Encourage your child to re-tell their favourite stories.
- Visit the library and choose books together.
Building Confidence in Reading
When you read aloud, encourage your child to look at the words and pictures with you. Continue to practice and build upon all of the skills above.
- Look at the pictures together before you read, discussing what you think the story might be about.
- Read aloud any words that might be tricky.
- Read any repeated phrases. This will help your child recognise them when they read the book on their own.
- If your child loses the meaning of what they are reading, ask them to stop and think about what the word or sentence might mean, using a variety of strategies. e.g Read to the end of the sentence and then decide on a suitable word to fill the gap; re-read the sentence; use the pictures; use phonics - the letter sounds; knowledge of tricky words. If they still can’t read the word, then read it for them.
- Talk about the events in the story - What happened first? Then what happened? What happened in the end?
- Help them talk about their feelings about the story.
Reading and Enjoyment
- Try sharing a book together you read one page and your child reads the next. By doing this you are modelling what fluency sounds like. If children lose the meaning of the story when they are concentrating on reading it helps them pick up the meaning again while you are reading.
- Make links between events in books and their own lives.
- Use expression when re-reading a text.
The more children read, the more confident and successful they will be as readers.
Reading with Confidence
Continue to find time to read together and also continue to read to your child.
When you read a story to your child you are:
- Sharing the love of books, stories, poems, picture books and information.
- Sharing your enthusiasm for books will rub off on your child.
- Sharing and creating a story world that you can enjoy together which is safe and reassuring.
- Demonstrating fluency and what good reading aloud sounds like.
- Encourage your child to express opinions about the characters and story.
- Discuss feelings - how would they have felt if...?
- Encourage your child to read aloud with expression and fluency.
- Read as many books as you can, including re-reading books that you have already read.
The more children read, the more confident and successful they will become as readers.