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The recent introduction of our virtual story time group has the speech pathology team thinking about the importance of reading and how much fun books can be!

We all know books are great for young people, but why? What is it exactly about books that makes them such a powerful tool in therapy and at home for a young person’s development?

Children enjoy books in many different ways, some young people have one or many favourite stories they want to look at and read over and over again. Other children may seem more interested in flipping the pages or looking at the pictures. Some of our young people may enjoy books in a different way by pressing switches or turning the pages with their eyes. What’s most important is that your child has fun looking at the books with you and that experience leads to language modelling and interaction.

There are just so many benefits to a book when your loved one is interested and having fun. Reading to your loved one can support many language and interaction skills such as:

Understanding and comprehension skills. After all, reading is about what you learn from it, what you comprehend;

Emotional knowledge and empathy. When a young person can put themselves into the story this can happen. They identify with characters, and they feel what they are feeling. Young people begin to understand and relate to emotions;

Learning new words, concepts and ideas. Reading books ensures that your loved one is exposed to vocabulary on different topics, which means they hear words or phrases which they may not hear otherwise in their day to day lives. Remember to model these words on your loved ones communication device too if they have one;

Hearing the sounds in words and learning that printed words can have meaning. This is the first step in literacy development and learning to read;

Rhythm, rhyme and pace of a story. The way you read a book to your loved one, with lots of rhyme and rhythm helps them to be part of the story. Rhyme and rhythm have been shown to use different pathways in the brain which helps with learning and remembering lots of language concepts;

Play skills including developing their imagination and creativity. You may start see the young person make connections between books and their experiences and incorporate themes from books into pretend play;

Sequencing and telling things in order. Reading to your loved one helps them learn the way to re-tell an event, learning concepts like beginning, middle and end and how to tell a story. This skill is the starting blocks for being able to write a story. It also supports them to use different expressions and voices to keep people interested;

Social skills. Books can help a young person practice turn taking skills and learn problem solving and inferencing skills (e.g., reading between the lines); and

Sharing attention. Books are a lovely way to share an experience together and start to develop an understanding of what someone else finds interesting. A favourite book is a motivating thing to sit together and do; pointing to pictures, commenting on interesting things and sparking a conversation.

Research shows that young people who participated in daily book sharing routines demonstrated better early literacy skills, were better able to learn and remember the story’s content, and increased their overall vocabulary compared to peers who did not have daily shared book-reading experiences.

Spending quality time with one another—reading and talking—is such a great way to nurture literacy development and provide a positive language environment. It also helps you have some nice, positive interactions together.

See an upcoming article for more ideas for using story books at home with your loved one. Here is a hint…it’s all about the FUN! If you have attended any of the virtual story time sessions you will know, the sillier the better.

As Dr Seuss would say, “The more that you read, the more you will know, the more that you know, the more places you will go”.

If you would like to attend a virtual story time session, please email Jenna on jenna.obrien@kidsplus.org.au or contact your Speech Pathologist.

Written by speech pathologists Jenna and Mikayla.

References:

Dickinson, D. K., Griffith, J. A., Michnick Golinkoff, R., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2012). How Reading Books Fosters Language Development around the World. Child Development Research, vol. 2012. Available online at: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/cdr/2012/602807/cta/.

Debaryshe, B. D. (1993). Joint picture-book reading correlates of early oral language skill. Journal of Child Language, 20(2), 455–461.

Shoghi, A., Willersdorf, E., Braganza, L. and McDonald, M. (2013) 2013 Let’s Read Literature Review. Victoria: The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. 

Karrass, J. & Braungart-Rieker, J. M. (2005). Effects of shared parent-infant book reading on early language acquisition. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26(2), 133–148.