Dr Seuss famously said; “You’re never too old, too whacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child” - and he was right!
 
A consistent recommendation that I make in my Speech Therapy programmes is for parents to spend some time reading to their child. The importance of this cannot be over emphasised. It is widely acknowledged that reading to children promotes language development, so it is even more important for children who are struggling with speech and require even more exposure to learn.
 
Infants and toddlers
 
You'll find sharing books together is a great way to bond with your son or daughter and help your child's development at the same time.
 
Children with speech and language problems may have trouble sharing their thoughts with words or gestures. They may also have a hard time saying words clearly and understanding spoken or written language. Reading to your child and having them name objects in a book can strengthen the speech and language skills.
 
Tips for reading with your infant or toddler:
 
Read to your child every day and choose books that you think your child will enjoy and would be fun for you to read.
 
Since younger children have short attention spans, try reading for a few minutes at a time at first; then build up the time you read together. Your child will soon see reading time as fun time!
 
Here are some things you can try:
  • Read the same story again and again. The repetition helps a child learn language.
  • Choose books with rhymes or songs. Clap along to the rhythm and get your child to do the same. As your child develops, ask them to fill in words. ("Twinkle twinkle little star. How I wonder what you ____.")
  • Point to pictures and talk about them. ("Look at the silly monkey!") You can also ask your child to point to certain pictures. ("Where's the cat?")
  • Talk about events in your child's life that relate to the story. ("That bear has blue socks just like you do!")
  • Ask your child questions about the story. ("Is that bunny hiding?")
Preschool and school-age children
 
Helping your preschooler or school-age child love books
  • When you read to your child often and combine reading time with cuddle and play time, your child will link books and fun times together. So continue to read to your child every day. Choose books that are on your child's language level and that your child likes.
  • Here are some things you can try:
  • Discuss the story with your child. ("Why do you think the monkey stole the key?")
  • Help your child become aware of letter sounds. (While pointing to a picture of a snake, ask: "What sound does a snake make?") As your child develops, ask more complex questions. (While pointing to a picture of a ball, ask: "What sound does 'ball' start with?")
  • Play sound games with your child. List words that rhyme ("ball," "tall") or start with the same sound ("mommy," "mix").
Suggested books:
  • We’re going on a Bear Hunt
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Gruffalo
  • Owl Babies
  • Alfie Gets in First
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea
  • The Cat in the Hat
So folks, get practicing ‘the voices’ and get reading to your little ones!
Speech and Language Expert
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