The importance of reading with your child

Mum and Baby


Finding time to read with your child can be hard with all the other demands you face. But it really pays off, says Amy Schofield, editor of

Reading is probably the most important skill your child will learn. It opens up a whole new world of learning and imagination, and the more you help your child at home, the easier they will find it to develop this vital skill. However, if you work, run a house, have other children, and rarely get enough sleep, it’s a sad fact that reading with your child can start to feel like just another “to-do” to tick off your list.

But even if you have just got home after a 12 hour day, have dinner to cook, packed lunches to prepare, clothes to wash and dry, cats to feed, not to mention Holby City to watch (we all need a guilty pleasure), spending that time reading a book about a not-very scary but very hairy Gruffalo or a wayward and Horrid boy called Henry actually gives you the time to breathe, relax, and spend some quiet time with your child which can help you to forget the hustle and bustle of your hectic life, even for a short while. One of my favourites is to read “Who’s in the loo?” (“Is it an elephant doing a poo?”) with my boys aged five and eleven. It always has us in stitches, especially the peeing penguin…And of course while you’re having a good laugh and the dinner’s burning nicely in the oven, you’ll be supporting them in their reading and helping to instil positive early experiences of reading too.

So choose a time when you’re both relaxed and before you both get too tired, settle down somewhere quiet and comfortable, and make the time to read with your child:

  • When you share a book with your child at home, you are showing them that you think reading matters. You are giving your child your full attention and that tells them that reading is a special activity that is worth time and trouble.
  • Setting aside time to support your child’s reading is the single most important thing you can do to help them learn. Children who get help and encouragement at home learn to read much better than those who only read at school. So try to make time for reading.
  • When your child is under five, reading bedtime stories and enjoying books together is the best preparation for learning to read. As your child learns to read, usually between ages five and seven, you still have a very important role to play in helping them to enjoy books and develop a lifelong love of books and stories.
  • When your child is first learning to read, support and encourage their interest in books and stories through reading to them.
  • Tell your child a story that you’ve made up from your imagination, perhaps using people or animals they know or characters from other stories that they are familiar with and add your own twist to it.
  • Let your child choose the book you read together – don’t worry about re-reading a favourite book night after night, add some funny voices and mannerisms and your child will look forward to it every night. Re-readingĀ  familiar books can actually increase your child’s confidence in reading.
  • Support your child in learning to read by helping them with the reading book that they bring home from school, and remember to write it in their reading diary!
  • Encourage a love of reading by pointing your child in the direction of books they might enjoy – choose books together in a bookshop or library.
  • Let your child see you reading – dads in particular may want to encourage their sons to read by picking up a book, magazine or newspaper themselves.

Above all, aim to make the reading experience fun, cosy and time together that you both enjoy and look forward to. Everything else can wait.

Amy Schofield is editor of The site features mum bloggers and it is always looking for blogs to feature.

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