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Book Reading




Book-sharing – reading books to your child - is one of the most important activities during early childhood. An early start (yes, as early as infancy!) of shared book-reading stimulates language and literacy development in ways not obtained through other activities. Book- sharing benefits children by promoting skills needed to later learn how to read, and by encouraging a positive attitude towards reading. Children who develop such a positive attitude read more, leading to improved comprehension skills, larger vocabulary size and greater general knowledge, making reading a more rewarding activity and promoting further engagement in reading.

Anchor 1

When should I start reading to my child?

As early as possible! Reading is also beneficial for infants. 

  • It’s a great opportunity for meaningful episodes of joint attention (where both infant and adult are attending to the same object).

  • It facilitates learning new words and concepts. Children’s books often have a richer and more varied vocabulary than our daily interactions, introducing new ideas and concepts.  

  • It provides extensive exposure to print and written language.

  • It helps establish regular reading habits in the future and encourages a positive attitude towards reading

  • Shared book-reading improves children’s comprehension skills, vocabulary size, and general knowledge, making reading a rewarding activity for them and promoting further engagement in reading.

Anchor 8

How do I choose a book that will interest my child?


Infants (Birth - 2 years): 

  • Picture books: short and visually appealing. 

  • Books that offer tactile stimulation and opportunities for making sounds together (e.g., animal sounds). 

  • Books with simple storylines: Few characters and few events.  


Children (2-4 years):

  • Books with many illustrations 

  • Books with more complicated storylines: multiple characters and events. 

  • Books with educational messages that promote pro-social behavior. 

  • Books about a wide range of feelings: these can validate children’s own feelings and provide them with opportunities to process them. 

Children (4 years and above):

  • Books with an increasing amount of text. From kindergarten onwards, children gradually become more interested in the printed text

Anchor 2

When is the best time to read? During the day? Before going to bed? 

There is no right or wrong here. Choose a time that works best for you, your child and your family schedule; this can be before bed time, before dinner... What matters is that you are both comfortable and focused.

Anchor 3


Kids who are frequently read to at home learn to read earlier and with greater ease. The amount of time parents spend reading to their preschoolers is positively correlated with language and literacy skills. A closer look reveals that the affective quality of parent-child interaction during shared book-reading may be even more important than the quantity of such interactions. The magic happens when kids are positively engaged in the experience; this engagement helps them develop a positive attitude towards print and reading. Affection, praise, supportiveness, physical proximity, emotional spontaneity, and absence of criticism and hostility during shared reading are associated with children who read early and fluently. Children who experience criticism and hostility during joint reading develop poorer reading skills and negative attitudes towards reading. A sensitive and supportive reading experience is characterized by less parental disciplining and more positive opportunities to explore the text (more reading instructions, more attention to the written language and exploration of letters and words).

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Dialogic reading is a particular type of shared book reading that includes strategic questioning and responding to children. Adults help children understand and interpret text by referencing the children’s experiences and background, for example: “We’re reading about Dana’s first day of school. What was your first day of school like?”. Young children can respond with rich and complex thoughts when prompted with meaningful questions. Stories are read several times, and in each reading, the text is explored at a deeper level. The conversations that occur during the repeated readings offer an opportunity for enhanced word learning and having conversations about emotions and new concepts. . 

Certain stories can promote different types of social-emotional learning, through discussions about the experiences of the characters and finding parallels in the children’s lives and in the classroom or kindergarten environment. This form of reading has been found to be particularly helpful for social-emotional learning and emergent literacy.

Book Recommendations

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle 

  • In this book you can explore with your child how animals grow and start learning numbers and quantities. 


Where is Spot?, by Eric Hill

  • In this book your child can participate in a hide and seek game looking for Spot and in the process learn new concepts for expressing location. 


The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson

  • This book offers a unique opportunity for children to learn about deception, false beliefs and lies through the adventures of one little mouse who is navigating his way through the forest among creatures who want to eat him.


The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper

  • This book focuses on the idea of helping others despite difficulties and believing in one’s own strength.


The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld

  • Through this book your child can learn about empathy and listening to others and how sometimes simply listening is better than giving advice.


Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak 

  • Through this book, your child can have a peek into another child’s wild imaginative play, and an opportunity to process a wide range of emotions. 

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Bergin, C. (2001). The parent-child relationship during beginning reading. Journal of Literacy Research, 33(4), 681-706.

Doyle, B. G., & Bramwell, W. (2006). Promoting emergent literacy and social–emotional learning through dialogic reading. The Reading Teacher, 59(6), 554-564.

Flack, Z. M., Field, A. P., & Horst, J. S. (2018). The effects of shared storybook reading on word learning: A meta-analysis. Developmental psychology, 54(7), 1334.

Mol, S. E., & Bus, A. G. (2011). To read or not to read: a meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. Psychological bulletin, 137(2), 267.

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