Reading to your child is one of the most precious bonding moments of their young lives and can be equally exciting for adults.  Reading is a wonderful combination of learning and play, inspired by bouts of imagination that teach your child to eventually become a self-sufficient, intelligent, creative human being. And it all starts with a good story.

1. Encourage your child to read with a book they’ve chosen

If you ask your child to choose a book, then they are much more likely to engage with the story. You’ll also hopefully see a pattern of what your child enjoys most, whether it be knights fighting dragons, fairies or dinosaurs. Once this is established you can build a nicely themed library!

Click the image below to see the Dreams Bedtime Story Finder, a growing database of suggested reading for children of many ages.

Bedtime Story Finder

2. Make time to read together

Reading to your child is a great time to learn, have fun and do something a bit different in your child’s daily task of enjoying life. And what better way to prepare for a good night’s sleep? Dreaming about what you have just read and promoting a healthy imagination.

Image of two children reading

3. Encourage your child to join in

You should encourage your child to turn the pages themselves and hold the book. This helps your child read at their own pace and feel more part of the whole experience, thus promoting their interest in reading (which really is the whole point!).

If you have space, set aside a reading zone in the bedroom, the more comfortable the better. Pillows, cushions, throws and a ton of colourful books will make it a super creative space for the imagination to thrive in while you read to your child. They’re sure to enjoy reading if they have a comfortable space in which to do so.

Image of a baby in bed reading / read to your child4. Involve your child by talking about the pictures

Although most children’s books are image heavy, pointing at specific illustrations will help your child make the connection between the words and images. Eventually, you can ask your child to point at things themselves – for instance, if you are reading about dinosaurs and have just read a good description of a particularly colourful beast, get your child to spot it. Think of it as a prelude to Where’s Wally?.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Bedtime Reading Is So Important For Your Child

5. How can you help your child to read?

Ask them questions about what you’ve just read. This is the best opportunity to see if your child has understood what you are reading. You should encourage your child to talk about what they are reading throughout the book, not just at the end. The worst answer to hear is ‘I don’t know’, and it’s when they are young that they are best placed to be shown how to understand a text.

This is also good practice for when they are learning to read. Checking they are absorbing the text rather than just reading aloud ensures their literacy skills are improving.

Image of a parent reading to a child

6. Make it fun!

Reading children’s books should be a great experience that they look forward to. Acting like it’s a chore won’t inspire your little ones to be enthusiastic about reading. Unleash the child within, get excited yourself and your child is more likely to follow suit.

There are many ways of making reading fun – a particular favourite is putting on voices. If done right then your child will find the experience hilarious as well as educational. The challenge is when you are mimicking television characters. New parents these days will be familiar with the thought ‘What does Peppa Pig sound like?’. Do your research, your child will love it.

Image of children reading a bedtime story

Need more information on reading to your child? Read our articles on bedtime stories for more information.