Topic: Education

Making the most of story time

Many of us struggle when night after night our children ask us to read the same book. We are hoping to read something different to make the bedtime story more interesting for ourselves. While reading the same book time after time can become dull to adults this repetition of favourite books plays an important part in children’s reading readiness skills. Here’s how:

Repetitive reading of the same book helps children make the connection between the spoken and written word, a crucial reading readiness skill. A child is beginning to understand that every time his Dad looks at these pages, he says the same words.

It can be helpful to occasionally point to the words as you read, especially with books which have large print and a few words on each page. Don’t do this every time – it could take away from the story if done repeatedly, however, when done occasionally, it aids the connection between spoken and written words.
Ask your child to retell the story to you by just looking at the pictures. This helps with making the connection between pictures and text. Early readers can use pictures to help decode words they are unsure of. Learning this skill early will aid young readers later.

Many of us have observed our child sitting and “reading” a book independently, telling the story out loud. She may tell you she is “reading” the book, when actually she has just memorised it and recalls the story from the picture clues. While this is not reading per se it is of importance in the building of memory skills and in the development of reading skills, as the process of using pictures to recall text will later help with decoding unknown words.

With books that have repetitive phrases (such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrations by Eric Carle), pause for your child to fill in the next words, once he gets to know the text. This helps your child with the following important skills:

  • Predicting what comes next
  • Building memory skills
  • Increasing your child’s self-esteem and confidence
  • Building rhyming skills which aid in decoding words later
  • Connecting the spoken word with the written word
  • Reading together can be one of the closest experiences between a child and parent and reading aloud helps reinforce a love of books. Focusing on some of the skills above helps further strengthen reading readiness skills and turns those repetitive stories into worthwhile learning experiences – and not just at bedtime!