Inspired by the swell of recent Book Week activities and lots of conversations in the clinic about favourite stories, today’s blog post features our top tips for shared book reading at home. Not only does reading help to develop your child’s vocabulary, it can boost their spoken and listening language skills, literacy, problem-solving skills and flexible thinking!

1.Be able to see each other’s faces

Instead of having your child sit on your lap, ask them to sit next to you when reading. This allows you to see your child’s face, and for them to see your face while you read the story.

2. Face and Voice

Use your facial expressions and voice to bring the story to life. Express the emotions and characteristics of the different story characters on your face and in your voice. Using fun and exciting tones and expressions can help your child stay engaged in the story for longer, and help them learn to anticipate what’s coming next. A great book to try this with is “The Gruffalo”.

3. Take Turns

Take turns engaging with the story. Watch your child and listen to their input, allowing them to make comments and ask questions about the story. You can encourage turn-taking in your child by asking questions, relating the story to their own experiences (E.g., “Have you been to the beach/zoo/park?” “You help me make dinner”) and pointing/making gestures to pictures. For little ones who aren’t yet talking, they can take turns by looking, pointing/gesturing, smiling or making a sound (vehicles and animal books are great for this reason).

4. Pictures vs Words

Did you know that when you’re reading with your child, you don’t always have to read the words!? Reading the book’s text is a great way to introduce new vocabulary. However, adding your own words to talk about the story pictures can be just as great! (especially when you’ve read the book 1000 times before!) Comment on what you can see, and what you know about the items or people in the pictures.  You can also add your own sounds and dialogue to match the pictures, and repeat the sounds/words your child likes.

5. Wh-Questions

Ask your child a variety of wh-questions (i.e. who, what, when, where, why and how) as you’re reading the story. You can model the correct answers to these questions to give your child the opportunity to learn how to respond. You can then build on this by using ‘Blank’s Levels of Questions’ within your story reading to further develop your child’s language skills. Ask our Speech Pathologists for a Blanks Questions resource guide.

6. Foster Guessing and Not Knowing

Sometimes we don’t always know the answer to questions our kids ask us! and that’s okay! Acknowledge that you don’t have a definite answer, and then encourage use of problem-solving skills by making guesses based on what you know about the story (“maybe….”, “sometimes…”, “perhaps…”). Encourage your child to make their own guess on what might happen, or ask if they can think of something different.

Don’t forget, the most important thing when sharing a book together is to connect with your child, and have fun!  Sharing books is a wonderful way to learn about new ideas, and experiences together.