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Shared Book Reading – More than Words

SBA_readingA reading habit from a very young age is usually a reading habit for life. If you’ve been reading with your toddler or preschooler, then good for you! Home is a familiar place where children look forward to participate in activities with their parents. As such, shared storybook reading between parent and child often makes for a natural and productive learning experience. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that studies have shown that shared storybook reading has a positive effect on the literacy skills of children.


While time spent reading is important, it is the quality of the shared reading experience that determines how effective it is in boosting your chid’s literacy skills. The move engaged your child is, the more positive the effect on your child’s literacy development. Hence, while having an attentive and keen listener is a good thing, the interaction between your child and you should go both ways . The key to impactful shared book reading is to ensure that your child participates fully and actively in the unfolding of the story.


You can engage your child in the following ways:

1. Do a ‘picture walk’ preview of the story. Look at the pictures and ask your child questions to describe what he or she sees.
Ask questions to focus your child’s attention on the story, to check comprehension, to get your child to describe attributes e.g. colour, size and number.
Ask for explanations to account for a behaviour or development in the story, and predict what might happen next and why.

4. Make connections between events or objects in the story and those in your child’s life. Sometimes, a child may contribute a ‘connection’ without prompting, e.g. if you’re reading a story with a kindness theme, your child may voluntarily talk about a favourite teacher or person who exhibits such traits. When this happens, encourage your child to express him or herself, and then gradually bring the conversation back to the story. Take this as a chance to see more facets of your child.

5. Use characters and situations in the story as opportunities for your child to reflect upon him or herself. For example, you can ask questions such as, “How would you feel if you were lost in the jungle like the little baby bear?” or “Why does Jane get a funny stomachache when she is asked to visit the dentist?”, followed by, “Do you think you will feel like that if you’re asked to visit the dentist?”

6. Vary your approach and style of reading. You can do echo reading – where your child repeats the words after you, choral reading – where you both read together, or gap reading – where you read some text and pause for your child to fill and say rhyming words or other predictable words in the story

If you’re already doing some or all of the above during your shared book reading sessions with your child, fantastic Laughing

Do you find the above pointers useful? Do share your thoughts and experiences with us.