Looking for ways to improve your child’s reading ability? Students training in the Griffith Health Speech Pathology Clinics have put together the handy “READER” advice column. Thanks to Flora Young, Christine May Villahermos, Emily Veivers, Kelly Gary, Anmol Dhillon and Elsie Currie for their advice.

Read the Right Book

When picking a book for your child, look for books that have one or two sentences per page with simple text and illustrations. Look for text that is fun, i.e., containing rhyming words, repetitive text, or fun sounds such as “buzz”. Read books about routine tasks, familiar objects, family members, and interactive books (touch and feel, noising makers). The book suggestions listed below are ideal for young children and are readily available at libraries and bookstores:

  • Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Helen Oxenbury
  • Ten Terrible Dinosaurs – Amanda and Tom Ellery
  • Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox

Expand Language

Adding words to your child’s utterances isimportant because it shows them how to expand their phrases with word combinations or into a full sentence!You are teaching your childhow to express their message clearly. You can add words, new ideas, information or even words accompanied byactionsto keep them engaged. There are many opportunities to expand your child’s words, such as in the grocery store or the shops; your child might point and say, “Cake!” and you can expand this by saying, “Yes, this is a big chocolate cakewith sprinkles!”

Ask Questions

It is important to engage in conversation about the story by asking questions.Try asking open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions.Use the pictures and story to ask a variety of open-ended ‘wh’ questions suchas;Who is it?What is it?Where is it?When is it happening?Why is it happening?How do you know that?Balance questions with comments– try 4 comments to 1 question, this keeps it natural and fun like a conversation.

Direct Pointing

Pointing is important while reading. By pointing out print, you are teaching children that print ismeaningful, an important skill for later literacy. You are also helping them learn by drawing their attention to it. Children can learn about key words, words with different font styles and sizes, repeated text, letters and speech bubbles. They can even pay attention to length of words, orientation and letters within the word.

Enrich Vocabulary

Vocabulary development is important for later literacy success. As a child’s vocabulary is rapidly growing, they need many opportunities to hear and use new words. When reading with children, point out new and exciting words – remember to introduce a variety of words, such as question words, object names, words for feelings, and action words. After introducing a new word, show what the word means; you can do this by using gestures, everyday items, relating the word to the child’s experience, or looking up pictures on your phone.

Regular Reading Sessions

Finding plenty of books to read is easy, there are lots of great reading resources close to you and online! Libraries are a great resource for book borrowing and children’s literacy events.Membership is free for Gold Coasters and gives you access to all their books to either borrow, download or stream. The two closest libraries are Upper Coomera Library andHelensvaleLibrary. Another great alternative is theInternational Children’s Digital Librarywhich provides free to read online books that are available in many languages.

Our speech pathologist helps children and adults manage a wide range of communication, speech and language difficulties, with a specialty in working with pre-school and school-aged children. Please call 1800 188 295 for more information.