Learning to love books is the first stage in children learning to read. Without children developing an enjoyment for looking at and sharing books, they are not going to be willing to learn to read. However, reading does not just start with the letters on the page.
The early stages of reading begin with learning to turn the pages and showing an interest in books. Children might develop a love for a certain book and want it to read to them time and time again. Following this, children begin to learn about the direction the text flows in and they start to use their own language to tell the story from the pictures they can see. Story telling is a key part of building up vocabulary and creativity in how we portray what is happening through the illustrations. Once children are confident with the handling of books and are showing an interest in what they see, they will begin to start recognising letters and sounds within the text. This might begin with finding the letters of their name and then will move onto recognising sounds in sequence to begin blending. When children are confident in blending sounds together, they can begin to read simple sentences and then they begin to develop fluency and a range of skills to decode.
Throughout the journey of a book, it is not just about reading the text. Children must develop an understanding of what is happening. By using questions to provoke deeper thinking, to check for understanding and to predict endings is key to a child’s comprehension of a story.
At Huili Nursery Hangzhou, children are exposed to books throughout the environment. Each classroom has a bookshelf and a reading corner, where the children can access books freely. Books are often used as prompts in other areas of the classroom to spark conversation, give ideas or to enable children to undergo research within a topic of interest. There is print all around the classroom, from signs for where things go, to prompts for provocations, to documentation on the walls.
Reading is everywhere. We do not just read from a book. This is another important thing for children to understand and to be exposed to. When you are out and about it is important to talk to your child about the print you can see around you. For example, the labels on the packaging of food items in the supermarket, the signs on the shop fronts, the text on the road signs, the stops on the metro.
As adults, children are constantly looking at us as role models and by sharing our own love for books we can support children on their reading journey. Showing children how books are used in the environment, such as recipe books for cooking or atlases for discovering, gives them a sense of how they can use their skills to support them in everyday activities. Sharing the book you are reading with your child, allows them to explore the different styles of books.
Make sharing books a part of your routine at home. Value the time that you have with your child and make the most of them wanting to share stories with you. There are not many things better than snuggling in together with your child to read a book and share the magical adventure of story telling with each other.
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EY4D Sunset Art Exhibition