Whether kids love or hate them, books are a fantastic way to develop their language with you.
If your children are anything like my nieces and nephews, they want the same books read night after night, and often avoid their slightly trickier and less familiar school reading books. Do not despair! Whether it’s bedtime stories, reading a beloved classic, or sounding out phonics for school, books will always support reading and language learning.
Just grab a book and you can’t go wrong!
Although phonics, sight reading, and independent reading are important, for speech and language enjoyment and engagement they are crucial! So whether it’s just a picture book, a superhero comic, a space encyclopedia, or a classic fairy tale, all books create a fantastic tool for talking.
Sure, you can simply read them from front to back, but there are other ways we can use books to create conversation and learn new language.
10 tips for getting the most out of books!
1. Have a Look at the Cover
Before you open a book with your child have a look at the cover. Here are some questions you could ask and discuss to learn words . . .
- Let’s read the title . . . what do you think it’s going to be about?
- Let’s look at the picture . . . Does it give us any clues?
- Can we see the author’s name?
- Lets each have a guess at what is going to happen . . . .
2. Start at the End
Before reading the book read the last page/pages and ask and discuss . . .
- What do you think happens in the story?
- Does it have a happy end? A sad end? A funny end?
3. Mix it Up in the Middle
Stop in the middle of the book/at a cliff hanger moment and ask/ discuss . . .
- What has happened so far?
- What do you think will happen next?
- Who/what do you like/not like so far?
4. Play Detective
Read the book and help your child answer these three questions . . .
Who was in the story?
Where was it set?
It can be fun to write these down/mind map out the details using key words and pictures.
5. Act as the Author
Read half the book and then stop. Write/draw/discuss/play out the rest of the book. Help your child complete the narrative themselves in a fun and creative way.
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6. Dig for Treasure
Look through the book and find new vocabulary they don’t know. This can be in either the written text or names of the objects in the pictures.
- Do you know what that word means?
- What do you think it means?
Discuss and teach the word to your child. It can help to pop it on a post-it note so you can come back and revise it later.
7. Retell and review
Read the book together. After reading, ask your child to retell you the story to see what they have listened to, understood, and remembered. It can help to talk about the beginning, middle, and end. Ask the child if they liked the book and why, and rate it out of 10.
8. Describe and Seek
Choose a page and describe an item you can see on that page for your child to look and find (similar to a “what’s in the bag” game). Use vocabulary to describe its category, function, or position. For example, its a type of furniture, it’s made of metal, it’s next to the table. Your child can also have a go at describing something for you to find.
9. Play the Part
When reading a book you could roleplay the different characters and events using actions, voices, and props either by acting yourselves or using your child’s own toys.
10. Lose the Words
Cover up the words in the book with your hand or piece of paper. Retell the story together by using the pictures and describe what’s happening. This is a great way to get language flowing with a child who is a reluctant reader.
Books are a doorway to another world!
Reading and language learning with books includes encountering ideas our children will never face in real life, such as chasing dragons, finding treasure, flying dogs, and princess fairies. Reading a lot and experiencing stories allows them to lose themselves in wonderful adventures, while hearing and learning new and exciting vocabulary. Grab a book, have a go, make a start, and have fun!
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