How to read with your child

Research proves that children who enjoy reading do better at school in all subjects.

Reading together increases literacy skills and does so much more - it helps to build a strong and loving relationship between you. And it's never too early to start reading with your child.

Family reading on stairs

How to read with children of any age

  • Set aside some time
    Find somewhere quiet without any distractions - turn off the TV/radio/computer.
  • Ask your child to choose a book
    Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.
  • Sit close together
    Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
  • Point to the pictures
    If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
  • Encourage your child to talk about the book
    Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
  • And lastly, above all - make it fun!
    It doesn't matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don't be afraid to use funny voices - children love this!

It's never too early to start reading with your baby

Here are some ways you can try to share stories and rhymes with your child every day.

Baby reading Hungry Caterpillar

  • Sing rhymes and tell stories to your unborn baby
    They can hear you from around 18 weeks, and will recognise your voice before they are born.
  • It's good to start sharing stories, books and rhymes with your child from as early an age as possible
    Babies don’t need to understand all the words, they will just love to listen to your voice, look at the pictures and hold the books.
  • Reading books, talking about the pictures and cuddling up close together will help you build a strong and loving relationship with your child
    Everyone in the family can join in: dads, mums, care givers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles.
  • Having a baby is tiring and demanding
    Taking time out every day to enjoy a story, book or rhyme will give you and your child time to escape the everyday, enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other better.
  • Ask your health visitor about your free Bookstart Baby pack and your local library about your free Bookstart Treasure pack
    You will get free books and lots of good tips and advice to get started.
  • Join your library as soon as you can
    Librarians give great book advice and recommendations. And libraries have more books than you could ever own!
  • It's important to have books in the home
    If you really enjoy a library book, try to get hold of a copy to keep. You can also ask family and friends to mark every birthday or special occasion with the gift of a book for your child.

More information and free booklets to download

Reading tips and guidance to download

Babies Love Books booklets

Your guide to sharing books with babies

Babies Love Books explains the importance of sharing books and rhymes with children from birth, along with hints and tips for new parents and carers. It's available in 29 languages.

Reading with your child booklets age 0-12 months

Reading with your child booklets age 0-12 months

Babies love looking at pictures and hearing your voice as you read to them. Check out our brilliant guide to sharing books with children aged 0-12 months, available in 20 languages.

Reading with your child booklets age 3-4 years

Reading with your child booklets age 3-4 years

Just ten minutes shared reading a day can help your child grow into a happy, confident learner. Find out more with our guide to reading with children aged 3-4 years, available in 20 languages.

Reading with your child booklets age 4-6 years

Reading with your child booklets age 4-6 years

Sharing a book with a child is fun. It’s a time for closeness, laughing and talking together. This helpful booklet is available to download in 28 languages.

Additional needs booklets

Bookshine and Booktouch

Explore our guides to enjoying books and reading with deaf, blind or partially sighted children.

Finding books to suit different needs

Books for every child

This guide gives advice on finding books to suit the specific needs of a child - from books that help to develop fine motor skills to those that encourage speech and understanding.

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Bookstart is for every child. Explore our free Baby, Treasure and additional needs packs and find out how to get hold of yours.

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