Reading – Can it help language development?

Reading – Can it help language development?

Basically, yes...

...Okay, I will explain why.


Allows your child to hear words numerous times within a highly stimulating, visually supported and relaxed activity.

Exposes your child to words that they may not usually hear in day-to-day living.

Offers the opportunity to hear words being used within a variety of sentences.

Gives you a chance to share the moment with your child and engage in what interests them. This can promote extra conversation and discussions.

Means that us adults must abandon own own agenda and/or leave that ‘important’ work tasks and place our focus purely on our child.  

Gives parents a chance to explain what a word means and support visually through the story.

Means that a child can hear words being used in grammatically correct sentences.

So, when should you get reading with your child – I think I recall reading that a child can start to benefit from being read from around the age of 8 months. If your child is older than this, please do not worry. It is never too late to start reading.

Little tips to use when reading:

Allow your child to ask you about words they do not know.

Leave pauses or gaps for your child to fill with the known word or their own prediction.

Have fun guessing what might happen on the next page.

Re-read books. It may seem a bit tedious, but repetition, familiarity and interest are key for your child. I still, to this very day, can recall word for word my favourite childhood book, The Giant Jam Sandwich, and I believe that my parents can too!!

Take words from a story/book into your real-every day – “Look there is a drain pipe like in that book we read.”

For older children, keep a little pot for tricky or unfamiliar words. Re-visit these throughout the week. I always have a yoohoo Mini Vocabulistic pocket pack, filled with words relevant for my own children, in my bag to whip out in a restaurant, train ride or quiet moment

Encourage your child to try and use a funny, unfamiliar or tricky word from a story/book in their own talking. My son loves doing this.

Read regularly and frequently. I appreciate that books can be expensive so a visit to your local library would be a great starting place.

An interesting fact to leave you with  a child learns on average between the age of one and five years old 3.5 words every day. This means that by the time they start school they could have a vocabulary repertoire of about 5000 words⁺. Wow, impressive!

So, go grab a book and get reading!


Ref: ⁺Dickinson, D. K., Griffith, J. A., Michnick Golinkoff, R, & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2012) How Reading Books Fosters Language Development around the World. Child Development

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