Neil Griffiths, Red Robin Books
They say that everyone loves a story and what better way to focus on our little ones learning about language and listening than through stories. Hopefully you have memories of that special moment when your favourite book was read to you again and again and even though you knew the storyline like the back of your hand the pleasure was tangible.
For most of us the ultimate thrill was when you featured in the story. Hearing your name and the things you got up to could really be magical.
When you think of storytelling, don’t just restrict it to books. Make stories up, weave your own family into the plot and see your children hang on to your every word. Stop half way through a sentence and invite them to finish it. Take photos on your phone and look back through them together narrating a funny story to match the images. There’s lots of ways to enjoy stories together and sometimes the very worst time for a story is a fraught bedtime, so pick your moments carefully and make sure that you don’t view as something to be got through before the light goes off!
We’re lucky enough to know and work with the Author Neil Griffiths. As a previous Primary Headteacher, Neil knows what he’s talking about when it comes to helping families enjoy reading and supporting children’s language. Catching Neil in between trips across the globe (he’d just come back from China when we spoke to him where he’d been on a 3 week trip to work in schools and with families) we asked him for his top ten tips to encourage children to love reading. This is what he said….
Talk to your child from the moment they are born. Children who come from families who talk have larger vocabularies.
Talk about what you do, what you see and what you feel. Point out interesting words in the environment, on signs and on notices.
Play with your child. Play is crucial for a child’s complete development and makes a huge contribution towards their ability to use and enjoy language.
Reading aloud regularly to your child is by far the most effective way of encouraging a love of reading. Let it become a habit and daily routine, and don’t stop doing it until they indicate they would rather read alone.
Read favourites again and again.
Make story time together a special time with no distractions. If you have more than one child, read to them separately as often as you can.
Practice the story before you read it and lose your inhibitions. The more dramatic you are, the more your child will enjoy it and want to become involved in the story.
Make storytelling part of everyday life. Make up or tell stories in the car, on a walk or in the shops.
Have books and your child’s reading material around the home. Help your child view books, comics and newspapers as part of daily life. Have a small home library, even one shelf of favourite books is enough. Buy books that interest them.
Join the public library. Libraries are one of the first places where a child may foster an interest in reading and develop a love of books.
Give your child regular opportunities to choose their own books and reading material. You can offer advice to your child, but they will only develop a true lasting love of reading if they are reading material that interests them. Also remember comics and magazines can be very attractive, and boys often enjoy factual books. Don’t worry if they choose easy books as these can be relaxing and if they choose a harder book you can help them to read it.
Be seen reading yourself. It is vital that adults demonstrate their own love of reading. Children imitate, so read in front of them. Also, always treat books gently and with respect, as how you handle books is important.
We’d like to add our own little tip and couldn’t put it better than this famous quote from Emilie Buchwald- ‘Children are made readers on the laps of their parents’. Well said Emilie.