We are all aware of the importance of reading from early childhood, and we also know that as we get older and wiser, we begin to enjoy reading on our own more and more. The more avid readers we become, the more likely we are to enjoy reflecting on the books with others, maybe within the family, maybe in a book club, maybe at school. However, many children do not have a daily relationship with books (print or digital) from their early ages. Of course as teachers we cannot change the parents' reading habits, but we can inspire and influence them by sharing important facts and ideas about the importance of reading.
How early should you start reading with children?
You can start reading to your child (in your first language or in any other language) from the first months. Reading to your child can turn into reading with your child, and this can lead to discussing books with your teenage children who then will turn into young adults and adults and might start recommending books to you. If reading becomes part of your daily or weekly routine, and your children (or students) attach a positive feeling to these moments of 'extensive reading', it is easy to imagine that they will be more keen on browsing shelves in bookshops and libraries in the future.
Is it a good idea to read in English to your child if you do not speak English well?
Check out the Helbing Young Readers series and you will see that with the full page illustrations, simple but engaging activities and picture dictionaries these readers will make any parent feel comfortable exploring a book in English. It might even inspire the parents to learn some English! You can also download the Helbling Young Readers Guide 'How to help your child read in English' by Frances Mariani and Louise Potter and share it with the parents of your students. Follow this link to the Teacher's Resource page on the Helbling Young Readers website for free registration and downloads.
10 good reasons for reading with children
1 When you are reading, you share precious moments with a child giving him or her your undivided attention.
2 Reading stories helps build your child's imagination.
3 Stories portray reality, and they help your child learn about the world, opening up new perspectives and horizons.
4 Through reading stories you can share your values and learn about cultural norms without directly 'educating' your child.
5 Reading stories develops your child's verbal abilities and broadens their vocabulary.
6 Reading helps your child improve their concentration as they have to focus on the verbal and visual elements at the same time.
7 Reading leads to developing thinking skills and leads the way to the understanding of abstract concepts.
8 You can introduce reading strategies implicitly. You can stop to predict, question, synthesise and infer during reading.
9 Reading is an excellent opportunity to relax for the whole family.
10 Illustrated books will improve your child's aesthetic understanding and creativity through their interaction with the illustrations. Many children's illustrators are recognised internationally as artists in their own right.
Of course there are several other good reasons for reading with children from an early age. What are the most important aspects and benefits of reading for you? Share your ideas and experiences with us.