Getting the most out of reading to your child

Book cover of Wibbly Pig has 10 BalloonsChildren learn more from books when they are actively involved. Dialogic reading is a method that helps young children become involved in the story. In dialogic reading the adult helps the child become the teller of the story. The adult becomes the listener, the questioner, an audience for the child.

Use dialogic reading to help expand your child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills:

  1. Choose a book your child knows and likes.
  2. Ask what questions.(“What’s this?” and point to a picture.)
  3. Expand on your child’s answer with another question (“What is the kitten doing?” Child “playing”)
  4. Repeat your child’s answer and expand it (“Yes the kitten is playing with a little girl.”)
  5. As their vocabulary expands you can ask more open-ended questions. Use the “wh” questions what, where, who and “tell me what you see.”
  6. Follow that answer with another question: “What else can you see.”
  7. Expand on what your child says by including additional information.
  8. Help your child repeat the longer sentences.
  9. Offer lots of praise and encouragement.
  10. Follow your child’s mood. Don’t keep going if they are loosing interest or are tired.
  11. On the first reading of any new book just read it traditionally so your child can familiarise themselves with it.

"Promoting literacy does not mean creating a school-like setting in your home, but taking advantage of all the opportunities that are present in everyday life."
Susan Hall & Louise Moats

Did you know?

Toddlers learn around nine new words a day. By the time a child is two years old they understand 300 to 500 words. You help your child learn new words by talking and reading together.

Children who are read to three times a week or more do much better in later development than children who are not read to.

Tests of language development have found that children who have been read to dialogically are ahead of those who have been read to traditionally.

Book cover of Hairy Maclary FavouritesWhat kinds of books work best?

Books that:

  • Have clear pictures
  • Have a simple story
  • Are not too long
  • Have pictures of things that are familiar to your child
  • Show action and details in the illustrations
  • Are interesting to your child (get them to help you choose)

See your local library staff for further advice and book suggestions.