Advice Column, Parenting, Toddler

Inspiring a Love of Reading in Pre-Schoolers

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To be a strong reader has multiple benefits for your child. One of the most important things parents can do to ready their pre-schoolers for their academic careers, is to encourage a love for reading and stories. Proficient readers cope better at school, even in this digital age. In a recent household survey by Statistics SA ( Page 10), it was found that a third of South African parents have not told stories to their children and that 50% have never read a book to their children. Those little ones that have missed out and are at a distinct disadvantage when starting their school careers. 

Here are some ideas for stimulating your child’s interest in reading:

  • Read to your child every day. Choose a specific time in your routine so you don’t forget. Bedtime often works well as reading a story is a good time for a snuggle and a quietening down period.
  • You and your child each select a book or books to be read. Young children often like the same story read over and over. Let them do this while you select a different book.
  • Make stories interesting by using expression, different voices and sound effects.
  • Have “guest” story tellers. Let guests take a turn to read or tell a story.
  • Children can “read” stories to one another.
  • Read part of a book and then ask your child what they think will happen next or how they think the story will end.
  • Get your child to point out things in the illustrations.
  • At the end of the story, question your child about the sequence of the events in the story and discuss the characters. You could discuss alternate story plots or endings.
  • Let your child “read” the story back to you.
  • Let your child look at the illustrations in the book, before you read it to them, and make up their own story.
  • Make the book come alive. You and your child can act out the story you have just read.
  • Point out words to your child e.g. Look here is a word that start with a “M” like your name does or this word says “cat”.
  • Teach your child that every book has a title, beginning, middle and end.
  • Let your child make their own book. They can plan out the story by drawing pictures and you can write down the words.
  • Use apps such as Puppet Pals to create digital stories. Children choose the setting, characters and music for their story and narrate this while manipulating the characters. This can be recorded and played back. 
  • Create a quiet, cosy reading space where children have access to books so that they can “read” themselves. Books, magazines, books created by your child, online books can be placed here. This can also be a place to relax and recharge.  
  • Read in different places like waiting in the car.
  • Use story time as a reward. Good behaviour can be rewarded with an extra book at story time
  • Play games where you make up stories. This is a good activity for the car. Start by telling a story and your child fills in the words e.g. once there was a little girl called _____________. She was very ___________. Then move on to taking turns by alternating sentences in your made-up story.
  • Point out words that your child sees often and can learn to identify. Show them the word “stop” on stop signs or let them learn to identify names of shops that you visit regularly. They will be very proud to be able to “read” these words back to you.
  • Lead by example. Let your child see you enjoying reading. Suggest that you sit together, and each read your books.

Enjoy watching your child’s excitement as they develop a love for stories and reading. Pat yourself on the back for nurturing their early childhood development.

By: Brenda Fenner, Teacher of Crawford Pre-Primary Fourways

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