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Speech and Communication

How to make talking fun by reading together

Sharing stories and books helps young children develop language skills such as talking and listening. These tips by I CAN make it easy to get started.

Let your child choose the book

Involve your little one by letting them pick which book they want to share. If they find choosing tricky, offer them a small selection to pick from.

Share favourites as often as you like

Sometimes children pick the same books to share over and over again – and that’s OK. Re-reading a book lets children join in by telling you what happens next, and maybe even why! Being able to anticipate and guess what happens next is fun for little ones, and makes them want to learn more.

Choose the right spot

How you sit together can make a big difference to how much you both get from sharing a book – so try to get nice and cosy! Make yourselves comfortable and ensure you can both see the book at the same time.

Father or carer has baby on his lap, and is reading a picture book

Let little ones take the lead

  • Let your child help to hold the book or turn the pages
  • Take your time looking at pictures. Take pauses so your child can enjoy the story at their own pace
  • Let them steer the conversation – try not to do all the talking or storytelling yourself
  • Notice which pictures they point to, then talk about them together
  • Fire their imagination by talking about things in the story that they recognise: “Yes, it’s a cat. We saw a cat when we were walking.”
  • Chat about the story later on to see how much you can remember together: this is a great way for children to practice recalling new words and experiences.

Making reading time fun and relaxed helps your child learn and practice their conversation skills. It also helps them see reading, talking and learning as rewarding and enjoyable activities (and you will, too!).

The Book Trust provide free books as part of their Bookstart packs (Bookstart Baby for 0-12 months and Bookstart Treasure for 3-4 years) – available from your health visitor, library, children centre or nursery.

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