Book sharing – Make it interactive, for the love of language!

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There is no such thing as “too young” to start sharing books with your child!

The easiest way is to get your child into a regular book sharing routine. You will find you both cherish the special time together. Enjoy, as it does not last forever!!

Sharing books interactively is a great way to enhance not only the whole story experience… but is also a wonderful way to develop oral language skills, i.e. understanding language and using language. It allows a fantastic avenue to introduce young children to the skills they will later need to learn to read, spell and write. There are some key things to remember…

Kids love sound effects – get noisy!

Kids love movement – get animated!

Kids love repetition – so be prepped for this and be patient. If your child wants you to read it again and again – it is a healthy sign!

So how do you make book sharing interactive?

Depending on the age of your child; you will modify the following tips somewhat to suit their age.

* Talk about the title and what you see on the book cover E.g. “I wonder what this book is about?” or “Look at that big bear!

* Read or talk through the story. You can stop after a sentence, and make a comment or ask a question. Ensure you vary your tone of voice; sound excited, sad or worried etc.

* Talk about how the story relates to the child’s experiences e.g. “Sally went to the park…We like going to the park too, and going on the slide!”

* For any tricky or unfamiliar words stop and explain them

* Be descriptive. Talk about the pictures using the “WH” formula; Who; What; When; Where. Also throw in a How.


WHO is in the picture

WHAT they are doing

WHERE they are

WHEN the event is happening

HOW the character may be feeling

* Have your child fill in the words, particularly of a story that they are familiar with. E.g. “But where is the green…?” You may be surprised at how much your child knows, once given the opportunity to actively participate.

* Make mention of the sequence and parts of the story. E.g. “Oh this is the funny part!”, “the happy part is at the end” or “I like thestart of the story”

* Give your reactions to what is occurring in the story. E.g. “I hope he finds his teddy!” or “That’s a nice thing to do”

* Have your child think about the story too, by asking them to predict what may come next, or have them problem solve E.g. “What else can he do to get his cat out of the tree?”

You may use the same book regularly and just change it up a little each time, with different comments and questions as you go along. If you have more than one child to share a book with, it is great to have them all share the book together. For an older child you ask the more advanced questions and for the younger child, of course simplify your questions. The bonus is that your children can also be reinforced to do other things, such as taking turns to flip the pages over, and doing good listening to their sibling answering questions etc.

If you find regular book sharing tricky to fit in everyday; recounting what you/ the family have done in the day, using some of the tips given above; is also a great way to stimulate language development. E.g. “This morning after breakfast; we went to the park with Sally. You went down the slide first, and were so excited, as that is your favourite! What did you go on next?”

To help foster a love of reading, remember to have your child see you read; you may not realise just how much reading you do in day to day life; shopping lists, emails, road signs, recipes, instructions for games/ setting up items, newspapers, magazines etc. I think you get the idea, and your child will also get the idea of how reading fits into the world…

Happy book sharing!



This article was published in Shire’s Children magazine, March issue 2015.