World Book Day will be celebrated this year on Monday 23rd April. This special day provides the opportunity to celebrate our favourite novels, characters and authors. This love for books can be fostered in children from infancy and will provide the child with lifelong benefits.
Given that the foundations of literacy are developed during early childhood it is essential that children’s pre literacy skills are nurtured in a manner that supports their learning. Shared storybook reading can aid in the development of oral language for young children. It can foster an overall love for reading, improve overall literacy skills and maximise the child’s educational potential. Competencies in phonological awareness, print awareness and vocabulary can also be significantly enhanced. Furthermore shared storybook reading can provide an enjoyable and relaxing opportunity for parents and children to spend quality time together while reaping the endless benefits of books.
Rhyming storybooks written by Julia Donaldson are particularly engaging and educational for preschool aged children. The Gruffalo, Monkey Puzzle, Stick Man, The Smartest Giant in Town, The Snail and the Whale and A Squash and a Squeeze are among my own children’s favorites to read.
The constant rhyme and repetition throughout these books provides an excellent foundation for developing oral language and literacy skills in young children.
In order to maximise the opportunities for literacy development parents can;
-Take a walk through the storybook prior to reading it. Browse through the illustrations. Ask the child what do they think might happen based on what they see in the pictures.
-Introduce language such as ‘title’ ‘author’ and ‘illustrator’. Explaining these terms every time a story is read develops the child’s understanding of the words
-Repeatedly reading the same storybooks on a regular basis enhances the child’s comprehension of the story, compounds their understanding of new vocabulary and helps to foster a love for particular books.
-Each time the storybook is read to the child, the parent can select one or two particular words that they will explicitly explain the meaning of while reading. This helps to build up a bank of new vocabulary and overall oral language.
-The parent can provide further opportunities for language development by asking open ended questions, prediction questions and addressing the child’s comments and queries
-When the child has been exposed to a story on a regular basis the parent can pause at a juncture where there are rhyming words. This prompts the child to state the word thus promoting phonological awareness. For example: ‘Wise old man can you help me please? My house is a squash and a……(parent pauses). Child says ‘Squeeze’. This inadvertently teaches children rhyme which is a fundamental element in enhancing overall literacy.
Joining the library, attending the shared storybook sessions at libraries, providing children with comics, celebrating World Book Day and routinely reading bedtime stories will cultivate a lifelong love of shared storybook reading for children of all ages.
Article by Jane O’ Halloran
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