Creating a reader for life by Bookbears

Imagine visiting an enchanted fairy tale castle, noisy farm, snowy forest and a glorious sandy beach all on the same day. Sound impossible? Well perhaps in ‘real life’ it may seem unrealistic to do so, but for book lovers being transported to these wonderful locations happens every time they read or listen to a story.

Reading opens our minds and ignites imagination – just two of the reasons why it is an essential activity to be embraced by young children alongside their parents and carers. Now let us be clear that I am not talking about ‘teaching’ a child to read in the mechanical sense of decoding words by ‘sounding out’ and other similar strategies. Instead I am focusing upon that delicious past time of snuggling up and sharing a story together.

It is never too early to start reading to your child – in fact ‘now’ is a perfect time to start, no matter how young (or old) your baby or child is. Whilst pregnant with my first daughter I was working as a full time infant school teacher and I wouldn’t like to hasten a guess as to how many stories she would have been ‘read’ in utero alongside my class during each school day! Now at the age of three, one of her favourite past times is sharing a story with mummy or daddy or ‘reading’ to her baby sister – adorable to observe.

Immersing oneself in literature has endless benefits; develops both spoken language and comprehension, acts as a stimulus for role play and imaginative games, supports fine motor development (turning pages and pointing to detail in pictures) and can sensitively address significant life events (moving house, arrival of a new sibling, bereavement) – to name but a few.

Arguably one of the most vital effects of sharing a story together is that it provides much needed ‘down time’ in our busy worlds and can be the ideal way for parent and child to enjoy some focused bonding time. I know that my husband’s favourite time of day is bedtime with our eldest – I’d like to think that’s because of the closeness and quietness of this special time of day, rather than the fact he gets to lay in a darkened room for an extended period of time and opt out of tidying up the devastation in the living room created by the baby and toddler!

During my time working as an Early Years teacher one of the most common queries asked to me by parents was regarding the types of books they should be reading to their child. The answer is ANYTHING that is enjoyed by both parties, not forgetting that reading doesn’t always have to involve books (or even words), but alternatively may include a comic strip, magazine or a book with only pictures so you can make up your own story. Below, however, I have listed (not definitive as the list would be huge!) some of my favourite read aloud books for the under fives.

  • The Smartest Giant in Town (Julia Donaldson)
  • Zog (Julia Donaldson)
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Judith Kerr)
  • Owl Babies (Martin Waddell)
  • That’s not my….collection (Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells)
  • Hairy Maclary…collection (Lynley Dodd)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
  • Rumble in the Jungle (Giles Andreae)
  • Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell)
  • Little Rabbit Foo Foo (Michael Rosen)
  • We’re going on a bear hunt ( Michael Rosen)
  • You choose! (Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart)

At Bookbears we understand the importance of shared story time and the power that books can have upon little ones. Our weekly sessions are designed to help young children develop a life long love of books and stories because we know that reading really is the pathway to everything! Through a range of guided play activities our sessions will ignite your little one’s passion for literature as well as provide parents with activity ideas to try at home.

Weekly classes launch in March 2018 – Wednesday mornings at The Willow Centre, Cringleford and Thursday afternoons at Lingwood Village Hall.

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Victoria, Bookbears.