We all know that reading books to your child is good for their development. The question is however, how do we make sure that we are doing so in a way that is maximising their opportunities for language learning? The answer is book sharing.

What is book sharing and why do we do it?

Book sharing is all about engaging and involving your child in the book reading process. Instead of merely reading a book to your child word for word while they listen, you are making yourself and your child active participants.

It will come as no surprise to you that book sharing has a number of benefits such as helping to:

  • Boost vocabulary development of nouns, verbs (action words), and adjectives
  • Develop knowledge of concepts
  • Answer and ask questions
  • Spark imagination
  • Explore emotions
  • Improve picture recognition and visual attention

So how do we successfully book share?

These are my top tips for optimising language learning through book sharing:

1. Be enthusiastic!

Show an interest in the stories that you are reading. If your child can see that you are excited, they will generally want to share that excitement with you.

2. Be animated.
Put on ‘silly’ voices or even create voices for story characters. Use facial expressions and gestures to make the story more appealing. Sit in a way that ensures you and your child can both see the book, and your child can also see your face and body. A ‘triangle’ set up often works well.

3. Use props and/or puppets.
For example, if you are reading a book about farm animals, get out a farm set and animals to make the experience more real.

4. Involve the child by letting them lift the flaps, turn the pages etc.
This will help to maintain their attention and level of engagement.

5. Talk about the pictures in the story, you can even make up parts of the story and encourage your child to do so as well.

6. Relate what is happening in the book to experiences your child has had.

For example, if the book is about the beach, talk about times when you have been to the beach and what you have seen and/or done there.

7. Ask questions throughout the book.
Book sharing is especially great for those ‘Wh’ questions such who, what, when, where and why. On any particular page you could ask “what is happening?”, “where is X?” or “why is X …?” It is important to remember that this is not a test. If your child is unable to answer a question, simply provide them with the answer. This is how they will learn!

8. Encourage your child to ask questions about what they are hearing!

This will provide opportunity to expand their knowledge even further.

9. Read and re-read the same stories over and over again.

Repetition is key for helping children to learn language!

It is never too early (or too late) to start book sharing. It is helpful to make book sharing part of your every day routine. Pick a time that is best for your family, such as before your child goes to bed. Lastly, don’t be afraid to check out your local library!

Happy booking sharing!

By Kiara Weir
Speech Pathologist