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Why it’s important to read aloud to your little ones

‘The story is told eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart’ Maureen Philip Pamis 2020

This quote sums up why reading stories aloud with small people is so very important. It promotes face to face communication, brain and language development and bonding and attachment.

Speech and language skills are important in children’s lives and one of the best predictors of educational achievement and life chances. There has been much research into the links between speaking (oral language) and reading. The amount of time spent reading aloud is related to faster developing language skills and toddlers who are read to or shown picture books daily are less likely to have language delays. Children who are read aloud to regularly, often learn to read faster in school and enter school with larger vocabularies (words known and used by a child). Researchers have found that vocabulary at age 5 is linked to later academic skills in school.

The simple act of cuddling up for story time can have a huge impact on later development. It can be hard to know where to start and what kinds of books are best etc.

Here’s my quick guide for the under 3s:

Cuddle up and make sure your little one can see your face as you read together. Use a conversational style that lets your little one join in the “story chats”. Take turns, wait for your little one to respond, copy what they do, and most importantly do the actions, noises and voices! Sturdy board books are your best friend!

For young children simply enjoying this time and talking about the pictures is enough.  Take your time and let your little one choose the book. Research has proven that repeating the same books over and over is really important for brain development. Start Dear Zoo for the eleventy billionth time, it’s really worth it!

“We do not age out of being read aloud to. If we did the audiobook industry would not be thriving”. Donalyn Miller

Suzanne Reilly is a Senior Speech and language therapist. She founded and runs The Babbling Bookclub in Galway and sells Babble Boxes. Find more information here on Instagram and Facebook

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