Courtesy of Townsville Grammar School
In the words of esteemed Australian children’s author, Mem Fox, spending ten ‘wildly happy minutes’ reading aloud with your child every day will have many life-long benefits.
Regular reading will:
- Develop language and speaking skills – words, sounds and rhyme
- Foster imagination and creativity
- Develop social and communication skills – conversation
- Develop understanding of the difference between “real” and “imaginary”
- Develop concentration and memory
- Broaden the child’s mind to a range of topics
- Develop emotions such as empathy
- Provide an opportunity for the child to be calm, particularly when they are restless
According to Mem Fox, reading aloud regularly will “Change your child’s life; their brain will develop, they will learn language, they’ll love the adult who’s reading to them, and they’ll learn more quickly how to read when they go to school.”
Some tips, taken from Mem Fox’s Ten Commandments for Reading Aloud:
- Start from birth!
- Read at least three short stories a day – or the same story three times!
- Read aloud with animation – have fun and laugh
- Read with joy and enjoyment, both for yourself and the child
- Read the stories your child loves and keep the same “voices” for the characters
- Ask your child questions and involve them in the story
- Look for rhyme, rhythm and repetition – let the child finish the rhyme
- Find words that begin with the first letter of your child’s name
- Never get tense or “teach” reading
- Enjoy every moment
Learning how to speak (language) is the most important skill a child will develop before they learn to read. Mem says that children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read – or the same story a thousand times! Books and stories also provide young children with exposure to important life themes such as relationships, families, cultures, situations and personalities. Stories also can provide a good reference point for parents in real life situations and environments.
Prioritising reading in the early years will provide your child with a strong foundation for their learning, as well as for their overall social and emotional development.