Reading: more than words

Talking about books, stories and images helps kids develop reading, writing and communication skills.

There are lots of opportunities to practice communication skills by getting engaged with written and visual stories found in your child’s every day environment.

  • Print: signs labels, books and emails.
  • Multimedia: music, film, animations, web texts and television shows.
  • Visual: Maps, symbols, pictures, photographs and artworks.
Books: The first chapter

Help your child discover books. You can take them to a local library and borrow books, or read books in the home. Read aloud to your child as you point to the words and pictures on the page.

You can also point out the words on the title page or cover and discuss why they are there. Teach your child how to turn the pages and how the words flow (left to right, top to bottom).

Get guessing

Help your child learn to predict what the text will be about by using information on the cover and/or by flicking through the text. Ask questions like:

  • What do you think this book is about?’
  • What do you think will happen to the boy?’
  • Why do you think this will happen?’
Know the purpose

Help your child learn about where words are used to communicate, such as recipes, menus, maps, information books, picture books and web pages. Helping them figure out the purpose of each gives your child an understanding of how words and images can be used for communicating.

  • Is it to share information?
  • Is it to tell you how to do something?
  • Is it simply to tell a story?
Rhymes and patterns

You can help your child use their memory of patterns in the text of familiar books. Get them to join in, and talk about rhyme or repetition. Talk with them about:

  • remembering how the words on each page start out the same
  • how the last word changes and matches the picture/ rhymes
  • how book characters often say the same phrases and words.

Discuss the ideas in the book’s words and pictures. Ask questions such as:

  • ‘What just happened?’
  • ‘Why did it happen?’
  • ‘What happened first/next/at the beginning/end?’
  • ‘Why did the character do/think that? Have you ever seen/done something similar?’
Reacting and responding

Sharing your feelings, making comments and asking your child to share theirs helps your child understand their own reactions. You can ask questions to encourage your child to explore what they think.

  • “What did you think about the book?”
  • “Why do you think that?”
  • “Would you read the book again? Why?”
Talk your own language

If you speak a language other than English, you could sometimes share and talk about texts using your home language. Talking about texts helps kids:

  • view themselves as capable of learning to read and write in the future
  • develop a desire to read and write
  • explore new words and ideas, and understand their world.
Draw them in

Encourage your child to draw something and tell you about the story it shows. Point out details that you see to show your child how you can understand what they are trying to show.

Image Mother and child share a book together, sounding out words and pointing to images

Published — 10 September 2016 Last updated — 04 November 2016

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