Why is it important to read with my child?

“Why is it important to read with my child?”

Reading is possibly the most important and beneficial skill your child will learn. A good grasp of reading is essential for development in a great variety of situations.


School is the obvious one, where success in following instructions, completing homework assignments, filling in forms and indeed accessing all areas of the curriculum, are all dependent on the ability to read fluently and with understanding.
Research has shown that there is a connection between reading skills and academic achievement. Those who are skilled in reading are likely to do well in school (Pretorious, 2000). Exposure to books and reading in the early years is proven to make a difference in early literacy progression (Griffin and Morrison, 1997). Parent-preschooler reading has been shown to improve language growth, emergent literacy, and reading achievement (Bus, A.G, van IJzendoorn, M.H. & Pellegrini, A. ,1995).

Aside from cognitive and educational benefits, reading is a wonderful pass time, allowing your child (and you) access to all sorts of wonderful and magical worlds. The more enjoyable reading is for your child, the more likely s/he is to read. For this reason it is vital to introduce your child to books as early as possible.

why_should_i_read_to_my_childSmall babies may not understand what you read to them, but they love the colourful pictures in children’s books as well as the sound of your voice as you talk them through the story. For very young babies, soft books are a good introduction as baby can play with them without getting hurt. As your baby grows ‘feely’ books (such as ‘That’s not my…’ Usborne series) and pop-up books, stimulate, engage and foster his/her interest.

Long before your child can read it is important to read through stories to give him/her an idea of how the story flows, and to follow the print with your fingers to show that the words have meaning. Encourage your child to look at the pictures, talk about and point to what you see as the story unfolds. Rhyming books, like the Dr. Zeus books, nonsense books, like those by Nick Sharratt and nursery rhymes, all have an important part to play in developing your child’s auditory discrimination, and help to encourage him/her to experiment with sounds and words.

Sometimes parents think that once their child has mastered the skill of reading there is no longer any need to read to him or her. Storybook reading with children results directly in improved expressive vocabulary (Hargrave & Senechal, 2000). Fluent reading involves a lot more than just decoding words (which is what early readers do at the start) and it takes a long time to become proficient.

Decoding and reading for meaning are different skills, and there is very often a big gap between the two when learning to read. It all takes practice and ensuring that it is a positive experience will make it more likely that your child will read well and for enjoyment in the future. Encourage your child to read out loud.

Take turns reading to model more advanced reading skills. If your child is struggling with a word don’t wait too long before providing it. This encourages reading fluency and avoids loss of meaning.
It is helpful to create a routine. If you make a practice of reading to your child at a particular time of the day, before bedtime, for example, there is a good chance that reading will become a part of his/her life.


Remember! Reading, like any other skill, takes practice.


Reading lists for your pre-schoolers and school goers are available on line, but here are a few to get you started…


‘That’s not my’ Usborne series
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Baby Bathtime! by Dawn Sirett
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise
Elephant Welliephant by Nick Sharratt

Books for Children Ages 4-8

Cool as a cucumber- Michael Morpurgo
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Areby Maurice Sendak
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
The owl that was afraid of the dark by Jill Tomlinson
The tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary
Horrid Henry Francesca Simon

Books for Children Ages 8-12

The wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Murporgo
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Under the Hawthorn tree by Marita Conlan McKenna
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
The BFG by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach: A Children’s Story by Roald Dahl
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh


Books for Young Adults

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Elizabeth J. Pretorius ‘What they can’t read will hurt them: Reading and academic achievement. Innovation No.20 December 2000
Griffin, E.A. & Morrison, F (1997) The Unique Contribution of Home Literacy Environment to Differences in Early Literacy Skills. Early Child Development and Care ,Vol 127 (1)
Hargrave, A & Senechal, M. (2000)A bookreading intervention with preschool children who have limited vocabularies: the benefits of regular reading and dialogic reading. Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Vol 15, Issue 1, Pages 75–90
Bus, A.G, , van IJzendoorn, M.H. & Pellegrini, A. (1995) Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read: A Meta-Analysis on Intergenerational Transmission of Literacy. REVIEW OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH Spring, vol. 65 no. 1 1-21.




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