Enjoying books at home with your child

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Sharing Books

Sharing books together with your children is one of the most useful things you can do. By sharing books you will be able to help your child to:

  • understand that pictures and print are different.

  • learn that words and the pictures carry meaning.

  • listen to and enjoy well known

  • stories, poems and rhymes.

  • retell stories and tales they know.

  • use books and magazines to find out information.

  • learn some of the language

  • connected with reading such as : page, title, author, cover and illustrator.

  • talk in book language. ‘Once upon a time.’ ‘A long time ago in a far away country.’

  • recognise familiar letters and

  • words.


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Ideas for you as

parents and carers to

have fun with books

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Even your youngest child can enjoy books. Babies as young as three months can concentrate on bright pictures and enjoy a soothing voice. Rhymes and repeating phrases will hold their attention even at this young age.

Your children are never too young to share a story!

How you can help.

Make sure you sit in a cosy, comfortable place. You will know where this is in your house.

Sharing books is a special time with your child. Choose a time when you can give your child all your attention. Make sure your child sees the pages and pictures easily.

  • Let your child turn the pages themselves. Show them how to do this by pointing to the corners of the page.

  • Talk about the front cover and the title of the book.

  • Look at the picture on the front cover and talk about what the book may be about.

  • Ask them open ended questions- what do you think might happen in this story? Who is in the story?

  • Talk about the pictures with your child. Use interesting, descriptive words. Develop your child’s vocabulary.

  • Ask lots of different questions as the story progresses. Use word such as what, how, why, when, who? Encourage your child to use a ‘whole’ sentence when replying.

What kind of books to read.

Choose books that have brightly coloured pictures. Find books that interest you and your child. They may love dinosaurs or bears. Find books with those themes. Look up on the internet for titles. Go up to the local library and ask the assistants for help. They are always ready to suggest a good book. Go to the local bookshop and look at the displays. They always have an up to date selection. Write the titles down and borrow from the library.

Choose books with not too many words in them at first. Find a good picture atlas and ‘show them the world.’ Children love to learn about new places. Talk about the animals in those places. Your child will love bringing a book to school to share.

  • Let your child ‘read’ the story. They may not know all the words but let them talk about the pictures and tell you what is going on.

  • Maybe have some story props to go with the story. eg: a plastic elephant for ‘ Elmer.’ Some woodland animals to go with ‘Percy the Park keeper.’ Children like to act out stories using props.

  • Be prepared to read the same story again and again. Children love familiar stories and will keep their favourites on the bookshelves for years.

  • Use expression when you read a story.

  • Point out simple and familiar words to them. Point out repeating phrases. Eg: Trip, trap, trip, trap, over the rickety bridge.’

Grandparents love spending time with children.

The more you read and tell

stories at home, the more your

child will want to read at


Children will naturally choose books to read at school if they are already familiar with them at home.

Things to do together.

  • Read poetry and rhyme books as well to your child. Make some simple props to go with the rhyme.

  • You may have some finger puppets or make some of your own with paper and lolly sticks. Finger rhymes are always popular.

  • Make simple sock puppets together or puppets from paper bags or paper plates.

  • Record a favourite story for your child to hear. Use interesting and different voices for the characters. Recorded stories are brilliant for long car journeys. Have a look in book shops and toy shops and browse their collection of CDs.

Telling stories.

Children love to be told stories. There is something special about a bedtime story which is made up. Making up stories is something we do all the time. It’s our way of making sense of the world. Here are some ideas to help you make a start.

  • Have a special box with some family photos of when you were little. Ask your child to choose one, then tell a story about what happened in the photo. You can always add a little extra to make it more interesting.

  • Have a collection of some small objects. Ask your child to choose three of them then make up a silly story. Eg: tell a story which has a snail, a fairy and a cat in it.

  • Have a box or basket with some dressing up clothes. Dress up in role and tell an amazing story together.

  • Have a ‘family story time’ when you sit together and someone starts a story. Take it in turns to tell the next bit.

  • Ask grandma or grandad to tell a story. They always seem to know the best ones! You may remember some favourites from your childhood.
  • Use some of your child’s small toys to act out adventures. Make up some ‘small world’ trays to have a pretend world. Use shoe boxes, biscuit tins and garden planting trays. You will have most of the props amongst your child’s toys. Playing and talking in these ways gives plenty of opportunities to try out new words and develop different ideas and most of all use imagination. Cut out a small photo of your child and let them become one of the characters in their small world.

Most of all have fun with your child. The best stories are often created from a simple idea.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Room on the Broom

The Train Ride

Making books.

Have fun making books with your child at home. They will learn how to order a story. They will learn to read simple words. They will enjoy it more because it will be ‘their’ book. Make zig zag and flap books. Make books in the shape of a house or animal.

  • Make simple books about your holidays or a place they have visited.

  • Make a family book using photographs of all of the people special to them.

  • Ask your child to tell a story and write the words in the book. Your child can draw the pictures.

  • Let your child bring these books into school to share.

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