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Ten tips to help your child to read - from the experts

How to inspire a love of books from an early age

Posted: 11 December 2012
by Fiona McKim

Keep it simple with babies
“Choose books with simple images and text – remember you are buying the book for your baby, not for yourself” says Rod Campbell, author of Dear Zoo. “Point to objects and say their names slowly, repeating several times. At the end, Go through it again – as often as your baby wants.”

Don’t feel embarrassed by your reading style
“Children don’t care if you’re not a good reader, they just want to hear your voice” says Wendy Cooling, founder of the national Bookstart scheme.

Swap reading duties
“The same story can be a new experience, depending on who is reading it. Remember the value of having grandparents in the home to read, too” says Stephanie Barton, former publishing director at Ladybird.

Make books accessible for children
“Keep a number of books on low tables and ledges” says Dorothy Butler, author of Babies Need Books.

Sit down together
“Your baby will love sitting on your knee, pointing at pictures and making animal noises.” Says author and Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson.

Don’t forget nursery rhymes
“Rhymes should bubble out of your child’s mouth, and once they are entrenched, you will hear how his flow of language has improved” says Butler.

Be flexible
“Your child might be ready to read a storybook, but sometimes he’ll want to go back to a book he liked as a baby, so be sensitive to that” says Rosemary Clarke, head of the Bookstart scheme.

Continue to read to your child
“Your child’s attention to a story will be much greater than his reading ability” says Clarke. “When his appetite to reach new goals in his own reading”.

Let your child read what he wants
“Comics, magazines – it all helps to consolidate reading skills” says Cooling. Parents moan about Where’s Wally?, but at least it encourages concentration”.

Don’t underestimate your child
Author of the Mr Gum stories, Andy Stanton, says “You don’t have to tell children what the jokes are”. He also reminds parents not to patronise a budding reader “Children know when they are being conned. Great stories happen when you turn over some strangely-shaped rocks and see what’s underneath them. Children can cope with unexpected plot twists”.

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