Sharing stories aloud every day has numerous benefits to your child’s development. Reading and sharing stories can:
- Help your child get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills
- Learn to value books and stories
- Spark your child’s imagination and stimulate curiosity
- Help your child’s brain, social skills and communication skills develop
- Help your child learn the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe’
- Help your child understand change and new or frightening events, and also the strong emotions that can go along with them.
Sharing stories with your child does not mean you have to read. Just by looking at books with your child, you can be a great storyteller and a good model for using language and books. Your child will learn by watching you hold a book the right way and seeing how you move through the book by gently turning the pages.
Reading stories with children has benefits for grown-ups too. The special time you spend reading together promotes bonding and helps to build your relationship.
Tips for sharing books
- It's never too early or too late to start. You can read to your baby right from birth or start introducing special shared reading time with your toddler or pre-schooler.
- Sharing a story should be fun for everyone, even grown-ups! Read it yourself first and have a think about the characters and plot. If you love it, chances are they will too! This also means that there will be no surprises that might trip you up as you read.
- Make a routine and try to share at least one book every day. Take a few minutes to cuddle up on the sofa looking at a book. A bedtime story is also a lovely, calm way to spend time together at the end of the day.
- Turn off the TV or radio, and find a quiet place to read so your child can hear your voice.
- Hold your child close while you read. Make sure they can see your face and take turns, leaving time for your little one to respond.
- Try out funny noises and sounds – play and have fun! Try active books with voices and actions during play times and softer, quieter stories before bed.
- Involve your child by encouraging talk about the pictures, and by repeating familiar words and phrases.
- Let your toddler choose the books when they’re old enough to start asking – and be prepared to read their favourite books over and over again! This is great for their language development.
- You don't need to read all the way to the end, which can be tricky with wriggly toddlers.
- Involve the whole family. If you have older children, they can share books with your younger children, or you can all read together. Taking turns, asking questions and listening to the answers are all important skills that will help your child when they start learning to read.
What sort of books to read with your child
There are so many books to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. Choose books that are the right length for your child and that match your child’s changing interests. Try to include a variety of books in their read aloud experience.
You can also vary the books and print materials you read. Picture books, ebooks, magazines, instruction manuals, TV guides, catalogues and letters can all be interesting and engaging for your child.
There’s no right or wrong way to share a story – the most important thing is to have fun together.
Reserve the books that libraries love:
Books to share with babies
- Brown bear, Brown bear, what do you see? by Bill Martin Jnr and Eric Carle
- Ten little fingers and ten little toes by Mem Fox
- My sunbeam baby by Emma Quay
- Moving your body by Beci Orpin
- ABC dance!: an animal alphabet by Sabrina Moyle
Books to share with toddlers
- Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
- Jump and shout by Mike Dumbleton
- The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Each peach, pear, plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
- Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s dairy by Lynley Dodd.
Books to share with pre-schoolers
- Possum magic by Mem Fox
- We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
- The very cranky bear by Nick Bland
- Giraffe’s can’t dance by Giles Andreae
Picture book audio collection
Titles in the Picture Book Audio collection have a permanently attached reader that transforms an ordinary print book into an all-in-one read-along. There's no need for computers, tablets or CDs. Simply push a button to listen and read. Try these great titles:
- Click, clack, moo: cows that type by Doreen Cronin
- Hey Black child by Useni Eugene Perkins
- Come Home already by John Jory
- Hug machine by Scott Campbell
- The legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt
- Red: a crayon’s story by Michael Hall
Libraries love these eBooks:
- Did you take the B from my _ook? by Beck & Matt Stanton
- Grandma Wombat by Jackie French
- Have you seen elephant? by David Barrow
- The rainbow by Ros Moriarty
- Inky the Octopus: Bound for Glory by Erin Guendelsberger
Need help setting up your device for eBooks? Watch this video tutorial.
- Check out Stories at Home, a range of free Storytime sites to watch.
- Little moments matter. Make the most of your child’s first five years with First 5 Forever.
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