It’s likely that your own attitude to reading was formed in childhood, influenced by opportunities to read books and the encouragement of the people around you.  The early years are when your own child’s attitude to books and confidence with reading begins so this is the time to get them inspired.

Why is it important for children, including babies to have books?

Numerous studies link early positive and frequent experiences with books with children who speak more fluently and have more advanced overall language skills.  These children are found to do better overall at school. They are more confident and articulate, learn to read with more understanding, and when they come to write, have a much clearer idea of how a story works.

How can I make books fun and help my child to develop a love of books?

  • Start reading to your child as early as possible – this can start even while they are still in the womb!  Read books to your child from birth or even in the womb if you like.
  • Associate books with being a special one-on-one time between you and your child by having them up on your lap or cuddling up on the couch for a story.
  • Give books as gifts for Christmas or birthdays to show that they are special.
  • Choose books that relate to your child’s interests.  I recently gave a book about diggers and dump trucks to a four year old who had never shown much interest in books.  What a change!  It was the start of a new love of books and hunting for books with a transport theme.
  • Have stories as part of your bedtime ritual.  It’s great if both Mum and Dad can take turns reading.
  • Read every day and store books within your child’s reach so they can get them whenever they like.  Have a basket of books next to their bed and in the lounge or main play area.  Have a few in the car for reading on the go, swapping them every week or so.
  • Praise your child when you see them reading.
  • Read as a treat “you have done such as good job tidying up that now we have time for a story”.
  • Model reading yourself.   Your child watches what you do more than what you say so let them see you reading and gaining pleasure from books.

Books for change or stress

Books are a helpful way to support children through change, stress or trauma.  By reading stories about situations they are going through children don’t feel they are “the only ones” and it can also be a non threatening way to talk about a sensitive subject.  This can include topics of divorce, loss of a family member, adoption, illness, a new sibling or starting school.

Books on a budget

This is where the library is your best friend.  Mostly free to join and a whole world of wonderful books on your doorstep.  Your child will feel so special to have their very own library card too!

Other ideas include Trade me, charity shops, school and kindergarten fairs, or have swaps with friends where you swap ten books for one month.  Just write your name in pencil in the cover so it comes back.

If someone asks what your child wants for their birthday , say “A book please!”

Start today!

So have fun with books.  Read a new book you wouldn’t normally choose, or lie under a tree with your child and share an old favourite.  It doesn’t matter how you do it, where you do it, or when.  Just read.  Maybe your own love of books will be rekindled while your child’s begins.

PS If you need ideas about great ideas for books for your children, check out the Kiwi Families book reviews and gift ideas.

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Jacqueline Taylor, mum of two, worked for 25 years in ECE and currently works as an early intervention teacher. As a qualified ECE teacher, she is especially interested in working with under 3s to understand and help them develop a strong foundation for the future.

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