Reading to children from an early age is the best way of encouraging them to love books and reading. By reading stories aloud, we take them into a world that goes well beyond our typical everyday spoken language, and form a link for them between reading, comfort and love. We need to do everything we can to ensure children get the reading habit while they are very young – before technology gets a foothold in their lives.
But what can you do to help parents develop the reading habit in their nursery-aged children at home? Children thrive on repetition, so encourage parents to remember that when they’ve read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt for the hundredth time, they’re hardwiring their child’s brain for success! The more they read, the more the story ‘belongs’ to their child. When a child knows a story well, they will want to ‘read’ it over and over again, joining in with the actions and expressions that the parent has used – a rewarding experience for everyone!
Here are a few ideas to help you engage parents and carers with developing good reading habits:
- Meet with parents before their children start nursery so you can explain the importance of reading to their children.
- Organise monthly meetings with parents/carers just before the end of a nursery session to keep them up to date on the books you’re reading, the rhymes their child is learning, and the sounds you have taught the children (for those in the last term of nursery).
- Provide parents with a list of the nursery rhymes you are teaching. You could stick an eye-catching notice on the nursery door to let them know the rhymes you are learning each week and provide them with copies of the rhymes or poems to take home.
- Invite them into the nursery to see how you read stories to the children.
- Organise an outing to the local library or arrange for the mobile library to visit.
- Lend picture books to parents and give them our ten top tips for reading stories to their child.
Share these ten top tips with parents and carers:
You can find a printable version of the tips here – perfect for sending home!
1. Make reading to your child feel like a treat, introducing each new book with excitement.
2. Make it a special quiet time and cuddle up so both of you can see the book.
3. Show curiosity in what you’re going to read:
Oh no! I think Arthur is going to get even angrier now.
4. Read the whole story the first time through without stopping too much. If you think your child might not understand, say something like:
Oh I think what’s happening here is that…
5. Chat about the story:
I wonder why he did that…?
Oh no, I hope she’s not going to…
I wouldn’t have done that, would you?
6. Avoid asking questions to test what your child remembers.
7. Link stories to your own experiences:
This reminds me of…
8. Read favourite stories over and over again, getting your child to join in with the bits they know.
9. Read with enthusiasm. Don’t be embarrassed to try out different voices; your child will love it!
10. Read with enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it, they won’t either!
Get more support
The above advice is included in the Nursery Handbook, part of the Read Write Inc. Phonics Nursery Pack,which includes guidance on:
- helping children develop a love of reading;
- developing children’s language through planned talk;
- and teaching the very earliest stages of reading using phonics, in the last term of nursery, to give children a head start in Reception.