Getting kids interested in reading is so important – and they’re never too young to start.
Reading can really fire children’s imaginations – and the younger you get them into storytelling the more likely they are to enjoy it for life.
But why is reading so important?
‘The important role that books play in children’s lives has been acknowledged not only in developing and supporting literacy but also in opening up the world to them and helping them develop a sense of self, empathy and understanding of others,’ explains Jane Mellors from Hertfordshire Library Service.
‘Children need to see characters they can relate to, to help them form a sense of identity and feel recognised, valued and integrated.’
Reading to babies
You might think it’s pointless to read to very young babies, but it’s never too early to share rhymes and books. Here are some of the benefits:
- It supports bonding between an adult and child and can be soothing as part of a night-time routine
- It helps develop listening skills, language and imagination.
- Rhymes expose children to rich language to help build up word banks, essential for early education.
- Rhymes can calm or liven up situations. Use when nappy changing, at the doctors or in a queue.
The main benefits of reading to your child
- It strengthens your bond
Sitting down and reading gives you time to be together away from other distractions.
- Head start
Children who are read to regularly have been shown to have a higher aptitude for learning across all sectors of education.
- Habit and routine
Making reading fun and part of every day life is a great habit to form. It helps develop a proper routine such as at bedtime; as they get older it provides a great excuse to cuddle for more than two minutes.
It helps children develop their understanding and speech skills far quicker, and helps them communicate thoughts and ideas easier.
- Basic skills
No child is born knowing how to read a book. It teaches them the basics of holding a book and turning pages properly, ready for starting school.
- Helps concentration
Regular reading will help them learn to concentrate.
- New experiences
Reading about different people and places exposes them to different experiences that they would otherwise know nothing about.
Use your library!
We’re lucky to have a lovely, busy library – but to keep it you must use it!
‘Author Michael Rosen has pointed out the important role libraries play in allowing children to choose books for themselves, developing browsing skills as well as opening their minds to new ideas and experiences,’ says Jane Mellor.
- There are hundreds of books to choose from for free.
- They are great places to read aloud together.
- Children can choose what they want to read even if it’s the same thing again and again!
- There are books for the most active toddlers where you can encourage interaction, singing, making noises and acting out the story.
- You will also find calmer more soothing stories, perfect for bedtime to help little ones feel secure and sleepy.
Keep it going
Evidence suggests that children’s reading levels can drop over the long summer holidays if they don’t keep it up. Last year the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge was accepted by 20,000 children across the county, so make sure you sign up this year!
There are also many other events at the library all through the year including Chatterbooks, a monthly book group for primary-age children, family learning events and one-off author talks and cultural events. www.hertfordshire.gov.uk