Let us read together!

For the under 1’s

As soon as they’re born, your baby recognises your voice and enjoys listening to you. Cuddling up and sharing a story together will encourage your baby to enjoy books and have better reading and language skills when they get older.

Reading tips

  • Sit comfortably and let your baby see your face and the story you’re reading or the picture or object you are talking about.
  • Turn off the TV and radio as too much background noise is distracting for both of you. • If you’re looking at a book together make sure it’s suitable for a baby. It should have clear, simple pictures, few or no words and be made out of board, cloth or plastic so your baby can grasp it easily.
  • Tell a story that you know well, or use a picture to make up a story.
  • Talk about what you and your baby have been doing or are going to do.
  • Sing and say simple rhymes and songs and try and do the actions. Newham’s libraries run rhyme time sessions where you can meet other parents and learn some new rhymes as well as enjoying your favourites. www.newham.gov.uk/librariesfor more information or pop into your local library.
  • Repeat stories and rhymes your baby enjoys over and over. You may get bored, but your baby won’t and you’ll be helping to develop connections in their brain.
  • Babies get tired easily so don’t worry if they lose interest quickly. Try reading together for a short time but as often as possible.
For those aged 12 to 24 months

Reading is a great way to introduce your toddler to new words and by naming pictures in a book, you will help them to learn the words for objects in real life. Sharing a story together will also encourage your toddler to enjoy books and have better reading and language skills when they get older

Reading tips

  • Enjoy reading with your toddler everywhere. Sharing a story just before bed is a great routine to get into but you can also share books throughout the day. Try reading in the kitchen, at the park, in the car, while waiting for a bus or in the bath (just make sure the books are waterproof!).
    • Turn off the TV and radio as too much background noise is distracting for both of you.
    • Point to the pictures that relate to words in the story and ask simple questions like, “can you see the.....?“. Give your toddler time to respond.
    • Look at books with flaps to lift and sound buttons to push.
    • Look at a mixture of books like non-fiction and books with photographs of real things as well as illustrated story books. You don’t have to buy lots of books, just visit your local library. It’s free and easy to join and children can have their own library card. Visit add link for more information or pop into your local library.
    • Try making your own book with photos of family and friends.
    • Sing and say simple rhymes and songs and encourage your toddler to do the actions with you. Most libraries run rhyme time sessions where you can meet other parents and learn some new rhymes as well as enjoying your favourites. Visit www.newham.gov.uk/libraries more information or pop into your local library.
    • Repeat stories and rhymes your toddler enjoys over and over. You may get bored, but your toddler won’t and you’ll be helping to develop connections in their brain.
    • Talk about what you and your toddler have been doing or are going to do
For those aged 2 to 3

At this age, children are beginning to connect the idea of stories with books. Reading together will introduce your child to new words and increase their vocabulary. It’s also a lovely way to relax and spend time together

Reading tips

  • Use books in a variety of situations like in the car, in the bath, joined to your buggy, in the garden or in the kitchen.
  • Try using a cookery book when you’re making cakes with your child.
  • Turn off the TV and radio as too much background noise is distracting for both of you.
  • Look at books with flaps to lift and sound buttons to push.
  • Read stories with lots of repetition as your child will like to join in. Leave a gap if there is a phrase they know well so they can say it.
  • Sing and say lots of rhymes and songs and do the actions together. Most libraries run rhyme time sessions where you can meet other parents and learn some new rhymes as well as enjoying your favourites. www.newham.gov.uk/librariesfor more information or pop into your local library.
  • Read some books that are not stories so you can talk about facts, especially if your child is interested in something like animals or cars.
  • If you’re telling your child a story about something that really happened, like when you went to the seaside, see what they can remember and ask them to help you to tell it in the right order
  • Make books about things your child is interested in by cutting pictures out of magazines together.
  • Make a visit to your local library part of your regular family routine. You can borrow an amazing variety of books, it’s free and easy to join and children can have their own library card. Visit www.newham.gov.uk/librariesfor more information or pop into your local library.
For those aged 3 to 4

Your child is beginning to understand how stories work and that the words on the page mean something. Reading together will help them start to make sense of those words and recognise some letters.

Reading tips

  • Use books in a variety of situations and match them to what your child is doing. You could have a book about transport with your child’s box of cars.
  • Read stories with lots of repetition as your child will like to join in and tell you what is going to happen next.
  • Point to words as you read them.
  • Make up voices for the different characters in a story.
  • When you finish a story, ask your child to tell you what happened. You could draw pictures together or dress up and act it out.
  • Make books about things your child is interested in by cutting pictures out of magazines together.
  • Make up stories about your child, or about when you were little, or about your child’s favourite toy.
  • Read poetry and stories that rhyme and pause so your child can say the rhyming words.
  • Let your child see you reading.
  • Let your child listen to stories on CD. You can borrow audio books from your local library.
  • Visit your local library and help your child to find books they’d like to borrow.
  • It’s free and easy to join and children can have their own library card. Most
  • libraries also run story time sessions where you can both be introduced to
  • some new stories as well as listening to old favourites. Visit www.newham.gov.uk/libraries for more information or pop into your local library.
  • Point out words and phrases on shops and signs when you are out and about. Children can recognise familiar words really quickly
For those aged 4 to 5

Your child is starting to read for themselves but they still need your support. By encouraging your child to read to you, being an enthusiastic listener and talking about new words and their meanings, you’ll help them to develop their reading skills.

Reading tips

  • Use books in a variety of situations and match them to what your child is doing. You could take a book about insects to read when you’re at the park.
  • Make up voices for the different characters in a story.
  • Point to words and grammar as you read. By pointing out the speech marks, your child will understand why you use a different voice when they appear. Just don’t do it all the time and spoil the flow of the story.
  • Speak to your child’s teacher about how they sound out words and use phonics to encourage children to read simple words. And then follow their advice when you’re reading with your child.
  • Read poetry and stories that rhyme and pause so your child can say the rhyming words.
  • Let your child listen to stories on CD. You can borrow audio books from your local library.
  • Visit your local library and help your child to find out information about something they’re interested in such as animals. It’s free and easy to join and children can have their own library card. Visit www.newham.gov.uk/librariesfor more information or pop into your local library.
  • Point out words and phrases on shops and signs when you are out and about. Children can recognise familiar words really quickly.
  • Make up a story together while you’re in the car or on a bus. Take it in turns to add to the story and try making it funny or spooky.
  • It’s great to introduce new stories and your child may have school reading books but make sure you still read your old favourites together. Your child will be able to read them confidently to you now.
  • Create a book with your child by folding pieces of paper in half and encouraging them to write letters or words on each page and add their own pictures Let your child see you reading

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Last updated: 09/10/2023

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