30 Mar 2020

The Importance Of Reading To Children

The process of reading has enormous health and wellness benefits for children, and adults alike. Reading is a way to calm and relax the body, while stimulating the mind with creativity, enjoyment and the ability to build on knowledge and understanding. 

Education Advisor, Natasha Perrins, spoke to us about the benefits of reading.  

“Children learn to speak through exposure to spoken language. Therefore, reading to children from an early age is central to this development as they actively listen, and process information being shared with them and develop their own capacity to communicate verbally and non-verbally for a range of purposes”, Natasha said. 
 

Natasha shared some of the learning benefits through reading aloud and exploring written texts:  

  • Oral language and communication skills are enhanced as words are explored visually and audibly. Increasing listening, memory and vocabulary skills  
  • Enjoyable way to introduce new concepts including colours, shapes, letters, numbers and animals.
  • Phonetical awareness promoting Early literacy and pre-writing skills 
  • Through the process of reading and exploring texts (words & illustrations) children development an understanding of words and the associated feeling. This awareness is important for social and emotional development.  This is especially enriched through the way the reader incorporates and adapts sounds, rhythm, rhyme, pitch and tone.
  • Broadens the child’s understanding of the world as different genres can be explored, fiction and non-fiction. Sparking creativity, imagination, discovery and curiosity.  
  • Promotes positive relationships and increased connection between the child and adult.  

  

Natasha’s Top Tips for reading with children:  

  1.  It’s ok to be creative! Books can be read in several ways - it’s the engagement and interaction during this process where the learning is enriched. Conversational Reading is one of the key areas in the Abecedarian Approach, with the focus on children being an active participant in the story telling allowing the context to be taken in a direction meaningful to them and what they are learning. Watch ‘See Show Say Learning Approach’ video for a visual representation of Conversational Reading in action. 
  2. Experiment with facial expressions, tone and pitch while reading stories to evoke sensory perceptions, emotions and enjoyment.  
  3. Explore different types of texts (fiction and non-fiction) and their purposes. Through exposure to different types of texts it provides children opportunities to make connections between what is real and what is not. The skill to research is an important one and a lifelong learning skill we endeavour to promote, as they make connections between ideas and reality. This is relevant to the teaching of Dr B Fitzgerald - ‘we first learn to read, then we read to learn’.
  4. Pause or close the book mid-way through the story and invite the child to predict what happens next and tell their own version. 
  5. Talk about who the author is, and the formatting of a story where the title begins and where the text begins on each page. Pointing to the words as you read is another way to reinforce this concept of how to read the text purposefully.  

Natasha’s Suggested Stories 

  • Where’s Spot by Eric Hill – this is an example of an interactive text as pop ups are involved. This encourages enjoyable interactions and curiosity as the child and adult make discoveries within the story.  The text itself is quite basic allowing for the illustrations to give meaning to these words, as well as providing a great opportunity to discuss the illustrations and be creative in storytelling.  
  • We’re going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury – a story that is hard to not read without enthusiasm. It involves repetition, rhythm and action that can be transformed into an acted-out story. Currently a lot of communities have adopted a bear hunt discovery for families to engage with while walking with their children.  
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – incorporates patterns and sequencing – days of the week, counting, types of fruit and foods, life cycle of a caterpillar.  

Visit the Lifelong Learning Centres YouTube channel to view some of our experienced educators reading their favourite books. 

Resources: https://raisingchildren.net.au/babies/play-learning/literacy-reading-stories/reading-storytelling 

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