I must admit I'm biased. I read and love to read. Can't imagine a day when I don't read.

A big part of my job is to read to children but also to ensure they come to love being read to and then, hopefully, come to love reading and of course books.  The excitement on a child's face when I am ready to turn the page and they are waiting....just waiting...to see what happens next in the story....that is priceless.

But apart from all the fun, there is the serious side to all this.

Research after research shows that those years from birth to five are vital.

These are the years when the literacy building blocks are developed. Children are sponges, they soak up all that they hear and watch...sometimes surprising those around them with what they take in. ( I remember at one Storytime when a carer was telling me quietly that a child's father wasn't at home- the little boy looked at me as said 'Daddy's in jail, again.' The child had not been told, no one had spoken in front of him but he had sometime or other heard and noted it down)

Children need to explore their world. It is all new to them, all part of a great adventure. And part of this exploration is finding the language to describe it. Not only formally in a book. Other ways to explore is by singing and storytelling, dancing, talking to others- adults and children, it's doing crafts...everything is a chance of discovery and learning the skills of putting it all into words.

Books however are an integral part of all of this. It's a chance of getting the basics learnt, how to hold a book, which way up is it held, how to turn pages....basic motor skills. But then...ah then comes the magic. The chance to escape.

A book is so much more than mere pages. There is magic within. A child can be a super hero, can be brave, overcome a problem, can laugh out loud at silly antics, can sail the seven seas as a pirate, climb a magical tree to other lands, can imagine what it is like to own a cat/ dog/ horse/ guinea pig/ dinosaur as a pet....the list goes on and on.

Reading to your child not only helps their future, it helps the family as a whole. It is a time for bonding, a time to sit down and enjoy being together.

A question I often ask new mothers is what is their earliest memory of being read to. It is surprising some of the answers. Some recall mothers and fathers reading to them, others grandparents, one recalled how she herself translating words into English for her migrant parents.

One young mother said she had no memory of being read to but her father was an artist- and she remembered her brothers and sisters would tell stories and her father would translate them into paintings. Even though no traditional books were read, she as a child, had the language skills to be able to tell stories. Her family and culture were more based on oral storytelling.

It is a sad truth that if you miss those early years, it will be so much harder when your child is at school. It's not impossible, but much more difficult.

So the answer- yes is reading. Read, sing, play, build things, knock them down, disover the world out there.
Read to your child from birth. Read to them every day. And keep on reading to them. No matter how old they are.

It's never ever too late for a good story.




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