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Lockdown Day 98 – Choosing books for children


In today’s post, we are going to talk about the importance of reading to and with your child. Maryanne Wolff, a neuroscientist and child development expert and author of Proust and the Squid writes that “Human beings were never born to read. Reading is a human invention that reflects how the brain rearranges itself to learn something new.” It thus stands to reason that reading is a skill that the child will only develop through nurturing and input from the adult.

As parents, reading with your children plays a vital part in their reading journey. Research has also shown that the time spent with your child engaged in reading supports them both emotionally and intellectually.


Reading with your child:

  • is a bonding experience
  • is associated with pleasure
  • provides ways of expressing emotion
  • allows the child to identify with the point of view of another (empathy).


Reading with your child develops:

  • potential in literacy skills
  • vocabulary
  • imagination
  • concentration
  • intuition
  • verbal skills/communication
  • memory
  • an interest in the wider world.

Try and vary the materials you use to read from. Children’s magazines, posters, charts, menus etc. all offer opportunities to enrich the reading experience. Your child will pick up new words and absorb sentences that s/he can incorporate into her/his speech.


Consider the kinds of books you are offering your child. For younger children (under five) books based on realistic themes with real pictures are often more appealing. This is because they can relate to the content as they have a reference from their own experiences. This kind of exposure is important for laying the foundation for the development of imagination which emerges around the age of 5-6 years. Choose high-quality books and stories that relate to everyday occurrences for the younger reader.

Older children who are able to differentiate between fantasy and reality love more imaginative stories. Look for age-appropriate books that have substance and meaning in their everyday lives. Children at this age are also incessantly curious about the world around them, so consider books that answer the ‘I wonder’ questions. Encourage your child to use books for both pleasure and to find answers (research). While the Internet may be faster, your child will gain other skills from perusing books such as patience, interest in investigation and the ability to process the information more coherently. There are studies that suggest that reading may be faster online, but comprehension is lower.


  • Be patient when your child is trying to sound out a word. Give her/him time and encourage as needed. When your child makes a mistake, gently point out the letters he or she overlooked or read incorrectly. Many emerging readers will guess wildly at a word based on its first letter.
  • Choose books that are at the right level. Help your child pick books that are not too difficult to read. The aim is to give your child lots of successful reading experiences.
  • Use the ‘I read to you, then you read to me’ method. Take turns reading aloud. This can be done by inviting the child to read the first sentence on each page and then you read the rest, or even whole page by whole page depending on the competency level of the child.

Our national curriculum mentions (among others) ‘emerging reading skills’ for the Grade R-aged child. Outcomes include:

  • Recognising and pointing out common objects in pictures.
  • Interpreting pictures in such a way that they make up a story.
  • Holding the book the right way up and turning pages correctly.
  • Pretending to read and adopting a reading voice.

All of these skills are achievable in the comfort of your own homes.

We trust that you will find the time to engage with your child in reading. You will be amazed by the benefits – for both your child and you!


Find all of our lockdown tips here –