Tips For Reading Picture Books with Young Children

For parents who are looking to embark on a reading journey with their little ones, picture books are the perfect way to start. Even if your children can’t read yet, picture books helps to introduce them to the concept of reading, and facilitates conversations between parent and child.

Editor-at-Large for Pushkin Press, Sarah Odedina, shares some tips that parents who are reading picture books to their young ones for the first time can use.

Mummyfique: How early should parents start reading picture books to their child? 

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It is never too early to start sharing books with children, as even babies who are two or three months old are able to identify objects, colours and shapes. Introducing books early on as an enjoyable thing also sets the tone for the future that books are something that is fun, and not a chore.

How can parents make reading to their child more fun?

When you read picture books, it’s not just about reading the words on the page. You should talk about everything that is going on in the book. Look at the pictures and talk about them. Discuss the noises that the animals in the pictures make, the colour of the flowers, how the characters in the book feel and their thoughts about where the narrative is going. When they read picture books, children focus on the pictures while listening to an adult read, so it is important not to ignore the narrative power of the illustrations.

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Is there anything you shouldn’t do when reading picture books to children?

It’s hard to go wrong when reading to a child, but do take time to enjoy the time with your child and let the story session take its own form. Don’t be too hung up on completing reading the book, it’s ok if you don’t read all the words in the book. Even if you spend 20 minutes just reading just one spread, don’t worry. Be flexible and most importantly, enjoy the reading experience with your child, whatever it comprises.

What can parents do if their child seems uninterested in reading picture books together?

Children can be bored if you simply just read the words on the page, so animate the experience with different voices, expressions and lots of enthusiasm. Additionally use the strategies that I mentioned above to engage them more. If the child sees their parent enjoying the reading experience, he will be encouraged to want to read more too. Also, pick books that lean towards your child’s interest, be it cars, princesses or animals to pique their interest. If you need more ideas and recommendations for reading picture books to your child, visit www.bookstrust.org.uk — there are some really good tips on ways to share a love of reading with your children on it.

Sarah Odedina is the Editor-at-Large for Pushkin Press commissioning titles for the children’s and young adults list. She was formerly the Publishing Director of the children’s list of Bloomsbury Publishing, where she oversaw the publication of the Harry Potter series amongst others. For the past few years, she has been a speaker at the annual Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) that celebrates and promotes the creation and appreciation of children’s books and content, with a focus on Asian themes. To find out more about this year’s edition of AFCC, including a parents forum that shares advice on nurturing early learning, visit afcc.com.sg

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