Why picture books matter: 7 reasons to read with your child

TessaTessa Strickland, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Barefoot Books has a great deal of knowledge and insight from a professional perspective but also as a mum of three. Here she shares with us her top tips for reading with children and gives us seven reasons why we should

7 reasons to read with your child

1. Reading aloud with your child paves the way for basic reading skills.

2. Research by the National Literacy Trust shows that just 10 minutes spent reading with a child each day greatly increases the child’s well-being – emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

3. Sharing picture books with a child builds intimacy,  trust and emotional intelligence.

4. Reading and writing are interlinked: reading to your child will give her a head start when she learns to write.

5. Reading aloud builds your child’s comprehension and vocabulary and accelerates her listening and speaking skills.

6. Talking about the illustrations in picture books develops visual literacy.

7. Reading fosters curiosity and will support your child’s journey to independence.

10 tips on reading with children

1. Be a role model – show your child how much you enjoy reading.

2. Share what you read so that your child links words with interesting information – reading  instructions from a recipe, a new game or a packet of seeds all helps.

3. Read little and often – set aside a special time every day (or more than one). Bedtime is popular, but breakfast works too!

4. Don’t worry about finishing the story: if your child wants to linger over a particular scene or episode, let her lead.

5. Choose books that you enjoy and show that you are enjoying them.

6. Be adventurous: find books that explore different themes and topics.

7. Ham up the narrative: use funny voices when the dialogue invites this.

8. Vary the pace of your delivery to create a sense of drama.

9. Ad-lib if you want to, and let your child feel free to do the same.

10. Acknowledge and encourage your child’s responses to the story and talk about what you think of the characters and the storyline.

Tessa StricklandTessa Strickland grew up in rural Yorkshire, the second in a family of five children. She studied Classics at Cambridge then taught English to school children in Japan. Her publishing career began in London at Penguin Books and she later moved to Random House. Becoming a mother in 1991 changed her view of the world. Wanting her children to have the freedom she had enjoyed as a child, and for them to have the space to write, paint, dream and imagine, she relocated to the West Country and set up Barefoot Books with business partner Nancy Traversy.

Nowadays she divides her time between Oxford, Barefoot’s UK headquarters, and Somerset and regularly visits Barefoot’s office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Barefoot Books has won many awards and this September celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of its first book.

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2 Responses to Why picture books matter: 7 reasons to read with your child

  1. Joanne Mallon 15 May 2013 at 16:56 #

    I would like to give a shout out for audio books. They have been such a big help in encouraging my son to read. He listens to them every morning and night and often reads along with the same book at the same time.

  2. Robin Wiesneth 30 December 2013 at 16:08 #

    I love your point about visual literacy. Pictures do indeed matter!