Every time you read a book with your children, you teach them a whole range of skills. These include the mechanics of printed text: which direction to read and how it functions – pre-school teachers do this by reading from “big books”, encouraging groups of children to follow the story together.
Reading also expands the vocabulary, teaching children new words and sentence structures and improving their understanding of the use of language in conveying ideas and meaning. It also teaches children about the structure of stories – they have a beginning, a middle and an end, and they have characters, a setting and a plot. This sense of story construction helps children understand other stories and to create their own.
Repeated readings and choosing books with rhythm, rhyming words and repetition (“The Three Billy Goats Gruff”, for example) encourages participation, interaction and direction by the child, further enhancing early literacy. It also makes story time at pre-school familiar territory, providing an immediate and reassuring connection to home.
At Leapfrog, for example, reading stories forms an important part of each day, often enhanced with art and craft activities, puppet making, role play, songs and rhymes. The children are encouraged to suggest books for the whole class to read together, and sometimes they choose to have an additional quiet story time of their own. Every day, they can choose a book to borrow from the library to read at home.
If you have any books that your children have loved but outgrown, consider donating them to Leapfrog to delight another generation, call 2791 1580 or visit www.leapfrogkindergarten.org.Current favourites at Leapfrog:
1. Dr Seuss books: “Cat in the Hat”, “I Wish I had Duck Feet”, “Green Eggs and Ham”, and others.
2. “A Fish out of Water” by Helen Palmer
3. “The Best Nest” and “Flap Your Wings” by P.D. Eastman
4. “The Bears’ Holiday” by Stan and Jan Berenstain
5. Lynley Dodd books: “Schnitzel von Krumm”, “Wake Up, Bear” and others
6. Tony Ross’ “Little Princess” books
7. “The Wish Cat” by Ragnhild Scamell
8. “The Big Pancake” and “Little Red Car’ by Nicola Baxter