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Tips For Reading to Children

My colleagues Richard and Christi put together this great video (above) about the importance of reading to children, and even provided some helpful guidelines on how to get started, and how to get the most out of your bedtime (or anytime!) reading. I’ve added the tips below as well, for reference, as well as a list of books included in the video.


1. Begin reading to them from at least six months old. Use those thick board books so they can get used to handling books — some people read to ’em while they’re still in the womb.

2. Do it regularly — reading must become routine. It’s have a bath, brush their teeth, listen to a good book.

3. Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer games. Turn off the Ipod. Turn off the radio. If I’m reading, then they’re listening and there will be no distractions.

4. Put some effort into your reading — you don’t have to do funny voices but a monotonous drone can put a young listener to sleep.

5. Stop and explain new words being heard for the first time — and encourage your child to ask when they hear something they don’t understand.

6. With chapter books, have a quick discussion at the end of a chapter — you can start by saying something like…well, it looks like Harry and Ron are really in trouble this time?

7. Let your child choose the books — this is important in developing their own tastes and a feeling of independence. Young children may ask for the same picture book over and over again — that’s fine, they move on….eventually.

8. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to process stories that seems threatening and violent. There’s nothing worse than bland bedtime reading.

9. Once my children were learning to read to themselves, our routine changed to include them reading something to me before I read to them.

10. For a bit of variety, introduce ‘guest’ readers — granny or grand-dad can do it when they come to stay, or an older sister can do it for an evening.

Great Books for Children:

Peter Rabbit

Green Eggs and Ham

The Paper Bag Princess

Brer Rabbit

The Phantom Tollbooth

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Jack and the Beanstalk

James and the Giant Peach

The Borrowers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

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