Parent’s Guide to Reading with Children 2-3 Years

The majority of brain development occurs in the first three years of a child’s life. Reading to and sharing books with babies and young children, and giving them time to respond, feeds their brain, helps them learn new words and grows their vocabulary.

Reading aloud to your baby combines the benefits of talking, listening and storytelling within one activity and helps to build the important foundations for language development. 

Sharing a book with a child is not only fun, but also beneficial on many levels. It’s a time for closeness, laughter, talking together and strengthening your parent-child bond, all while helping them to develop their language and become ready for school. Experience tells us that time spent sharing a story can be the most precious and magical time for children and adults alike. Jumping into the pages of a book and being transported to another world does wonders for a child’s imagination and introduces them to a variety of experiences - making their world a whole lot bigger.

Why Reading Together Is So Important

Reading together is great for further strengthening your bond and loving relationship with your child.

Babies love the sound of their parents’ voice and reading aloud to them can be calming during times of distress or unease. The presence of their favourite book and the characters can act as a soothing experience to further support the bond between parent and child.

The routine of sharing stories and rhymes helps your child to communicate and develop vocabulary, speech rhythms and repetitive language, making it easier to learn language structure and skills.

Books introduce children to the exciting world of stories and can help them learn how to express their own thoughts and emotions.

Giving your child time to think about what is going to happen in the book, or reflect on what has just happened, builds their language and brain development.

Research demonstrates that children who are read to from an early age make better progress when they get to school – learning rhymes and stories together will give them a flying start!

Links to Bright Beginnings Curriculum - Aspect 2.2- Reading

  • I enjoy it when you read simple stories to me and let me point to the illustrations for example ‘’Can you find the dog?’’
  • I take an interest in chunky board books and cloth books, handling them, opening flaps, press for sounds and learn to turn the pages independently.
  • I am learning that print conveys meaning through photographs of real things and a range of environmental print, for example my name card at mealtimes.
  • I like to sin songs and rhymes so that I can join in with the actions and anticipate what comes next.

Tips for Reading Together

  • It may sound obvious, but find somewhere quiet away from noise, TV and mobile phones. Make story time a special, nurturing time where you can relax and snuggle up together.
  • Provide babies with books everywhere and in familiar places that they can easily access. Places like in their bedroom, lounge and even outdoors. Think about places you enjoy reading, babies will imitate you and share your enjoyment.
  • Young children love a wide range of different books, for example, board books, bath books, cause and effect books, textures, flaps, pop-up books. This enables your child to enjoy different experiences. When reading together, encourage them to turn the pages, lift the flaps and guess what’s next in the story. This will support their natural curiosity and exploration.
  • Take time to look and talk about the pictures - this is one of the first important stages of ‘reading’ for children. Encourage your child to ‘tell’ the story in their own words. Even if this is just babbling.
  • Use animal noises or sound effects – these help to bring the story to life and make you both laugh! No one loves funny sound effects more than your baby does. Don’t be afraid to go over the top with weird noises as you read. Your baby will start to imitate you, and your first ‘conversation’ may ensue. This is called ‘serve and return’ or taking turns in early conversation.
  • Stories and rhymes can be shared with the whole family so why not invite other family members to join in?
  • Read favourite and familiar stories to babies again and again, that way they can learn new language and consolidate any previous language that is introduced to their vocabulary.
  • Factor in reading to your baby as part of the daily routine, for example, you may want to read a favourite book before bed to settle them down or whilst they are in the bath.
  • Don’t worry about reading the text from the book; just look at the pictures, point and focus on single words or short sentences to describe what you’re seeing for example, ‘’ Here’s the dog...woof, woof, says the dog’’.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re not a brilliant reader – just listening to your voice and its different intonations and rhythm is comforting for your baby. This will encourage new vocabulary and speech patterns.
  • When you reading with your baby, don’t worry about finishing the book or even turning pages in the right direction. Just enjoy sharing the book as if it’s a toy and read as much as your baby will let you. Encourage them to turn the pages themselves, even if it mixes up the flow of the story!
  • If your baby sees you role modelling reading books, this will encourage them to handle the books with respect, pick them up if they are on the floor and put them back where they belong, so from an early age they understand how precious books are.