'We are all richer for it': The amazing benefits of reading to children

Published on: 09 January 2023

Storyteller, performer and author Lucy Walters shares the amazing benefits of reading with young children...

A photo of Lucy Walters smiling with her hands on her hips

Photo: Michael Wharley

'Again! Again!'

As soon as the last page is reached, tiny hands are turning the book over to start the story again: eager to listen to the rhythm of the words, the comfort of the voice, to follow the story through the bumps and bends.

Listening to the rhythm of a story lays the foundation for reading – the pause, the pace, and the ups and downs of the voice working together to convey the meaning.

As a child I loved how the story slowed in Little Miss Shy when 'one o'clock...came and went'; the quickness of the 'flutterment and scufflement' in The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin; and the tongue-twisting sounds of George's 'grizzly old grunion of a Grandma' in George's Marvellous Medicine.

Joining in with a story begins by choosing a book together, pointing to words and pictures as the story unfolds, taking turns to try out the voices, and giving the child time to talk about what they see and hear.

As picture books progress to chapter books, the opportunity grows to read a few sentences each; to ask questions; to break down trickier words by sounding out letters; and to talk about where you left off before picking up the story again.

All of these help children feel happy and confident to join in at their own pace.

There is no right or wrong way to read a story. When a story is shared through listening, through speaking, through talking about ideas, big or small, we are all richer for it.

Sharing stories and conjuring ideas for our own stories means we never stop learning from each other. That's the best part of any story.

Find out more about Lucy at www.lucywalters.uk.com.

Top tips for sharing stories

Supertato creators Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet share some top tips to help you read aloud to children.

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