Many of us know that reading with children is important for their language development. But how should we be reading with our children to achieve exactly that?

Research is telling us that reading should be interactive. We need to read with our children, not to them. In other words, we want children to actively participate in telling the story, not just quietly listen to us.

Here are a few tips on interactive reading at home:

  • Let your child choose the book! When it’s a book that interests your child, it will increase their engagement in the story.
  • Don’t do all the talking! Get your child to participate actively in telling the story with you. Even if your child is not reading yet, they can still ‘tell’ the story by looking at the pictures.
  • Go at your child’s pace. Sometimes, your child might want to spend more time on a particular page. Sometimes, they might want to skip ahead!
  • Avoid asking too many questions, especially closed questions like ‘What’s this?’. Instead, focus on modelling different vocabulary in the context of a sentence, e.g. ‘I love her stripey dress!’.
  • For younger children, don’t feel you have to read all the words.
  • For older children, guide them to think about the characters’ narratives and how they are feeling. Helpful prompts include ‘What do you think of…’, ‘I wonder…’ and ‘I think…’
  • Help them to relate the story to their own real-life experiences.

Keep it fun and help your child see what reading for pleasure is all about!