Realising the importance of reading to our children is becoming more pertinent. Digital technologies are having an increased influence on the daily lives of our young children today, and reading a book for enjoyment appears to be a dying trend. It’s easy for us to forget that one of the most important factors contributing to successful literacy development is whether a child was read to when he/she was younger. Research has proved consistently that shared reading facilitates the development of skills that are fundamental to later academic achievement. The term “shared reading” refers to all the instances when you read to your child, pausing to engage in discussion about the text including the story, pictures, words and letters, as well as responses and connections to experience.
“Emergent literacy begins at birth..”
Participation in shared book reading early on in childhood has been associated with gains in a child’s emergent literacy and future reading development. Emergent literacy begins at birth and continues through the preschool years, and involves the learning of skills important to the development of reading and writing. It includes knowledge of the role of print as a communication device, knowledge of the sound structure of oral and written language, and knowledge of the nature of letters and other print symbols we use.
By providing a number of literacy experiences in the home, you are able to assist in increasing your child’s awareness of and interest in language beyond the spoken word. Storybook reading provides an interactive context that can be highly appealing and engaging for your child. Studies have shown that within this context, vocabulary development and conversational participation are also facilitated.
A good way of getting started is to request information directly presented in the text or pictures of your little ones storybook, such as labelling and describing objects. You can also ask your child to infer things such as meanings of words, feelings and attitudes of characters, similarities and differences between people or events, and making connections between information provided in the text and world knowledge.
Without a doubt, the definition of literacy is constantly expanding, but digital technology does not have to be our enemy in encouraging shared reading in today’s generation. Interactive technologies, such as tablets, can be meaningfully integrated in the literacy learning of your 21st century child. Whether it’s with a hard copy from the library or an App you’ve just downloaded, participating in shared reading with your child on a daily basis will promote both creative and academic success.