Reading to children is essential for their development
Research by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s shows reading to children is the most important thing you can do as a parent to help their development. Reading aloud to children every day can put them a whole year ahead of other children their age, and including a variety of books and stories can help expand their imagination and knowledge.
Pictures and illustrations
Picture books are the most common type of children’s book. Almost any book you can find that is designed for children under six years old will have pictures in it. These are great for young ones because the clear and colourful pictures help them understand the story and hold their interest even if they can’t read the individual words yet.
Rhyming and pattern
Books that have rhyming throughout the story or have a strong pattern, where each page or sentence follows the same structure, help children in their reading. It makes it easier to guess what words will come next and helps them begin to understand how sentences and phrases are made. If they can guess what the next words will be and answer correctly, this will encourage them. It’s important to challenge your children with their language skills, but keep in mind if the book gets too difficult too quickly, they may lose interest.
Pop-ups, textures and bath books
There are lots of books on the market with pop up illustrations, flaps with words and pictures hidden under them or pages that fold out. Hands-on stories will keep children involved in the reading experience even if they aren’t old enough to be able to read the words themselves yet. Texture books usually have big cardboard pages with materials such as fur, satin, bumpy plastic, or fake grass embedded in them. Toddlers and babies can touch the pages and feel different sensations, giving them another way to understand the words in the story. Bath books can be really fun for this age group too. Big, colourful waterproof pages can be taken into the bath to make reading extra special, and some even have squeaky noises inside them to stimulate all your baby’s senses.
Alphabet and counting
Learning the alphabet and basic number skills are the important beginnings for your child’s learning. Books that involve simple counting exercises or go through the alphabet by associating words with each letter (such as A is for apple, B is for bear) are a fun way to prepare young children for school. They help children recognise that letters are the symbols used in language and numbers are the symbols used for counting and maths. Creative illustrations and pictures make these books interesting for little ones.
Nursery rhymes and fairy tales
These sorts of stories are often passed down through generations. Reading a nursery rhyme or fairy tale that they may already be familiar with helps them understand the words and language used on the page. Every culture has their own fairy tales and folklore. It can be a great way to teach your children about different cultures and parts of the world. There are many illustrated children’s books available with stories from the Aboriginal Dreamtime, for example. Fairy tales can even be told to children at bedtime without a book plus storytelling can be fun and creative.
We hope that you and your children fall in love with many types of books if you haven’t already. Remember to have fun with it, and learning is most interesting to children when they enjoy what they are doing.