A Wollongong University study (Ledger & Merga (2017) highlighted the important role of schools in supporting children to read aloud as many were missing out at home due to the time pressures some families find themselves under.
Dr Elizabeth Westrupp, clinical psychologist from Deakin University says it’s not just about reading words on the page; what’s also important is sparking conversation with your child.
“You might be looking at the pictures and talking about what they see, or the ideas the book is covering. It’s all about being exposed to some new vocabulary and learning new words and interaction,” Dr Westrupp says.
“It’s a good idea to have a ‘turn taking’ interaction with your child, so they’re learning new grammar and hearing new sounds. It’s a lovely way to expose kids to a variety of language.
“When you’re learning anything, you need to repeat the experience because, each time, you might be getting something different from it.
“As adults, we know that you might read a complex book and, if you read it again, it allows you to absorb all the different elements over time. It’s true for children too. Not only do children love having the familiarity of their favourite books but the repetition is so valuable.
“Anyone learning something new will find it more helpful if we have something familiar to us, so that not everything is completely new, which can be uncomfortable.
“Children can benefit from reading the same books over and over again because they can learn to expect and predict what’s coming next and that can be quite enjoyable for them.”
Dr Westrupp also says sometimes books can be a useful tool as a stimulus for us to talk about things we might not normally talk about.
When it comes to choosing books, Dr Westrupp advises parents to not over-think it – find a book with nice pictures and a story you’ll both enjoy.
“You don’t have to think too deeply about which book will be the best book to read with your child. Of course, you can’t always predict the books your child will enjoy but, as long as they’re exposed to language, and it’s written well, then that’s enough. If you’re reading a few books a day then that is great.”