Reading to your child is one of the most precious bonding moments of their young lives and can be a really exciting time for the adult. 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 book.

Here we’ve put together some tips on making the most out of reading to your child and getting the most out of this precious activity.

Make time to read with your child

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, having dreams about what you have just read and promoting a healthy imagination.

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

Bedtime Story Finder

Read a book that your child chooses

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’s enjoys most, whether it be knights fighting dragons, fairies or dinosaurs. Once this is established you can build a nicely themed library!

Image of two children reading

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 the 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.

Image of a baby in bed reading / read to your childInvolve 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 particularly colourful beast, get your child to spot it – think of it as a prelude to Where’s Wally?.

Related: What Are The Most Important Reasons For Reading To Your Child?

Encourage your child to talk about the book

This is the best opportunity to see if your child has understood what you are reading – as a former teacher it’s disheartening to read through a short children’s book and ask ‘can you tell me about the book we’ve just read?’ only for the child to look blank eyed and slightly clueless. 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.

Image of a parent reading to a child

Make it fun!

Reading children’s books should be a great experience that they look forward to. Don’t act like an old headmaster and say ‘right, sit down and read’ (you’ll regret it later, I promise!). Instead, be excited yourself, say things like ‘let’s read about dragons!’. 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

How do you read to your child? Tell us in the comment section below.