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Pause to Read

As part of the new Family Winter Read Aloud program, Paws to Read, we are encouraging families to take time to read with each other. In this day and age of hectic lives and busy schedules, it is difficult to spend any time together as a family, let alone sit down and read together. But reading together can be lots of fun.

The bedtime story is a ritual all over the world. There is nothing like cuddling with a child at the end of a busy day and reading a favorite story. My children still talk about the books we laughed at-Mop Top, Max and Ruby, and Bunnicula; and the ones we cried over-Betsy and Tacy and The Incredible Journey. Reading with children is a wonderful bonding experience, but there are many other benefits.

Studies have shown that children who are read to early and often grow up to be strong readers themselves. Reading aloud also builds listening skills and helps increase a child’s attention span. Reading helps the child learn about the world around them. A book can teach you new jokes, carry you off to a different part of the world or impart valuable information.

Children who are read to have larger vocabularies.Even simple picture books contain unusual words that we don’t use in everyday conversation. Talk about the book you are reading with your child. This builds vocabulary, helps them learn to recognize words and letters and also increases their ability to understand what they are reading.

Looking for advice on how to read aloud to your child? One of my favorite authors, Mem Fox, offers these suggestions:

Mem Fox’s Ten Read Aloud Commandments

1. Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.

2. Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.

3. Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull or flat or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.

4. Read with joy and enjoyment: real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.

5.Read the stories that the kids love over and over and over again and always read in the same “tune” for each book: i.e. with the same intonations on each page, each time.

6. Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you can remember, or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together by doing clapping games.

7. Look for rhyme, rhythm or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.

8.Play games with the things that you and the child can see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.

9. Never ever teach reading or get tense around books.

10. Please read aloud everyday, mums and dads, because you just love being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.