Ms McLean recently shared these top tips at the first Parents United UAE Book Club event at Festival Plaza on 20th September 2023.
Parents, you will likely have noticed that many children love to read the same book over and over (and over) again. We know it can get a little tedious for parents, but Ms Mclean explained that there are many reasons why children may appreciate this repitition:
“The most likely reason for this is that your child enjoys the familiarity of the story, or that it is a story about a high-interest topic.”
She went on to provide a helpful tip for parents on making the most out of this scenario:
“In order to keep the story exciting and engaging, shifting the focus of your read-aloud each time. For example, the first time you read the story, perhaps just simply read and enjoy the storyline. The second time you read it, you could look for specific colours on each page, and the third time you read the story, you could try to guess how the characters are feeling.
“Doing this helps to keep the story fresh and builds children’s enthusiasm and engagement in reading.”
For families reading at home with the aim of supporting a child’s English language and literacy development, it may seem a little counter intuitive to read in any other language.
Ms McLean assured parents that reading in the language that is comfortable for their family is just as beneficial in terms of building literacy skills, and tends to be a more enjoyable experience (which is key).
“Sometimes families tell me that they only want their children to read in English, and I remind them how vital literacy development in their home language is too. Literacy skills are developed by reading, regardless of the language you are reading in.
"Therefore, reading in a home language, a new language, or English, will support your child in developing literacy skills. No matter what language you read in, the literacy skills you model by reading to your children can be applied to most languages."
One way to keep your child feeling appropriately challenged when reading to them or while they read to you, Ms McLean told us, is to ask questions that get them thinking.
“Asking thoughtful questions can support your child in developing their imagination, extending their thinking, and remaining engaged in the text.”
But what may questions like this entail? Ms McLean explained that this will vary depending on the individual child at their age and stage of development.
“Depending on the age of your child, you can cater your question to support their development. You might ask a young child to predict what they think may happen next, whereas you could ask an older child to think about how they could change the ending of the story.”
Ms McLean explained that, above all else, reading should be an enjoyable experience for a child. The most essential part of storytelling and reading together, she explained, is "to build a love of reading".