Teaching your children to read and to love reading is a valuable investment in their education.
This series of family-literacy articles is provided by the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign to support caregivers during and after the national lockdown.
Sharing books and stories with your children helps to build a strong and loving bond with them while also helping to develop the literacy skills that are so important for their success at school and beyond.
Reading also helps to open your children’s eyes, hearts and minds to other people and to different situations. And, when they enjoy the stories you share with them, they are likely to want to continue reading for pleasure throughout their lives.
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Here are ten tips for reading to your children, no matter what their age.
1. Invite – but don’t force – your children to read with you for at least 15 minutes every day.
2. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable to read. Beds and couches make good indoor reading places. Turn off the radio, TV and computer.
3. Ask your children to choose a book for you to read together. This shows that you care about what they think, and they are more likely to engage with a book that they have chosen themselves!
4. Start by spending some time looking at and talking about the book’s front cover. Don’t forget to read the story’s title and the names of the author and illustrator as it’s all part of the process!
5. Sit close together and encourage your children to hold the book themselves or to help you do this. Younger children enjoy turning the pages. Invite older readers to read the words of one of the characters or a paragraph or two of the story.
6. Try different things to make stories come alive! Use different voices for different characters. Read softly in quiet, gentle parts of a story. Read quickly if a character is in a hurry, or is being chased. Read in a big, booming voice for loud noises in the story.
7. Help your children develop their prediction skills by asking, “What do you think is going to happen next?” at different points in the story.
8. Talk about the story together. Encourage your children to share their opinions of the ways in which the characters in the story behave and the choices they make. Asking them to suggest different endings to the story will spark further conversation, and provide ideas on which stories to read next.
9. If the book has illustrations, look closely at them together. Comment on things you are curious about or that you notice and like. Encourage your children to do the same. For example, if one of the characters appears to have an angry expression. Discuss why he or she might be angry, and encourage your children to say what makes them feel angry.
10. But, most of all, simply enjoy sharing different books together. Relax and do whatever it takes to make these times fun for all of you. Reading should be for enjoyment!
For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit www.nalibali.org.
You can also sign up for free reading-for-enjoyment training though Nal’ibali’s FUNda Sonke loyalty programme at www.nalibali.mobi.
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