Yes shared book reading is fantastic for developing language skills. One of the best things about books is that unlike speech which “disappears” as soon as we stop talking, the stories and words come back to us when we read a book again. This makes it easier for your child to learn new words.
Here are some tips for reading with your child taken from the Hanen Language Development Programme which I offer to parents.
Give your child a chance to take a turn. Don’t think of reading as something you do to your child but rather think of reading as something you do together.
Remember there is more than one way to read a book. You don’t have to start at the beginning and you can skip pages or not even finish the book. You can just talk about the pictures and not read the words. The important thing is to let your child read the book in their own way. Let your child choose the book, hold it and turn the pages. Spend more time on the pages she or he is more interested in. Read slowly and point to the pictures as you read. Try to add sound effects that your child will enjoy e.g.animal sounds/car sounds.
Repeat repeat repeat. Children love to hear the same stories again and again. It’s not just about hearing the same words, it’s also about giving chances to talk about the ideas in the book and to learn to imitate new words.
It’s also important to pick the right books for your child’s communication stage e.g even when your child can’t understand the words or pictures in a book they will love the interaction with you. Choose books with bright colours and pictures or interactive books that make sounds when you push buttons.
I hope this gives you a little more information about reading books with your child. Reading books is so important in language development that one entire session is devoted to just that in the Hanen Language development programme for parents. If you need more strategies, check the website for the next upcoming Hanen Programme which covers many areas of promoting language development for young children.
Thanks again for your question. Frances.