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- Read and read often. We also read early. All of my children have been read to from birth because of my love for books. Many studies show that reading from an early age helps develop children's speech and language providing them with a solid foundation ahead of starting school. As parents, we are our child's first teacher and, consequently, responsible for their language and speech development in their early years. How we interact with our children is of great consequence - the more language a child is exposed to each day increases their vocabulary and reading a variety of good books makes this task easier.
- Build some reading time into your every day. When home with my first child, we would read together most mornings after breakfast and then again before bed. Once there was two to read with, reading straight after lunch gave us all some quiet time together and was a perfect time for discussion too. Young children value routine and what better way to end your day than by enjoying a good story together?
- Make reading a positive experience for you both. At around 12-15 months my second child couldn't sit through a whole book, often leaving my lap to go and get the next book so we started reading more interactive books instead - sturdy ones that required her to touch and feel, open and shut parts.
- Find new books to enjoy together. Seek out content that will stimulate your child's imagination although finding suitable books can prove challenging if you live in a location like we do away from bookshops with shelves of books ready for browsing. Perhaps that was why I was excited to see a second season of Disney Junior's 'The Book of Once Upon A Time' being added again to the Disney Junior channel 709 line-up (for all Foxtel subscribing homes). 'The Book of Once Upon A Time' is a locally-produced, interactive storytelling series hosted by Kate Mulvany, an Australian actor and playwright, and the new season premiered Monday 24th August at 7.10pm during Book Week. You can enjoy more opportunities to bond with your child as part of their bedtime routine with a new story airing every night at 7.10pm on the Disney Junior channel. Each story also ends with the 'Land of Once Upon A Time' lullaby - perfect for encouraging children to prepare for bedtime.
Disney does storytelling better than most. Just think of every favourite family movie you've ever seen... Snow White, Aladdin, Cinderella, The Parent Trap, Sleeping Beauty, Frozen, Inside Out. Disney Junior's 'The Book of Once Upon A Time' brings its classic storytelling to life on the small screen whilst still paying tribute to traditions of story time with turning pages, rich character voices and re-enactment with touches of animation that ignite the imagination and curiosity of children and adults alike.
Each story can also be viewed anytime on the website so if you missed Monday's first episode 'Snow White and the Great Jewel Hunt' you can still see it here at the Disney Story Room.
You can see the first season online at the Disney Story Room and 'The Book of Once Upon A Time' featured Disney stories are also available as eBooks from the Disney Story Central app, available to download from iTunes. A show like 'The Book of Once Upon A Time' provide opportunities for children to see the stories and characters they love come to life from the pages of a book hooking those more reluctant readers connecting with their playful imaginations. Hearing these familiar stories retold in a different format assists in the development of early literacy skills while good storytelling gives a child knowledge, be it promoting early maths concepts, social skills, moral values, a healthy lifestyle or developing good basic habits as part of their social and emotional wellbeing.
- Read and re-read the same book. This can help children develop early literacy skills and later, help them become more confident, fluent readers themselves as they begin to read independently. Reading is a skill that needs to be learnt - mostly through practice.
- Make books available to your children so they can explore them at their own pace. This can also be a useful way to find out what sort of books your child is interested in. We have books in their bedrooms, in a basket in the lounge room which I rotate books through regularly and another in the kitchen next to a comfy chair.
- Take them to your local library and let them choose their own books or help them find books that focus what interests them. We brought home 15 different books about space recently from our library. Last year they couldn't get enough of Frozen so the eBook version from this season's 'The Book of Once Upon A Time' will be a must for long car trips when we can't take lots of different books with us. Stories from ‘Winnie the Pooh’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ will also feature in this season.
- Let your children catch you reading! There is no more powerful way to show a child how much you value reading than to see you enjoying a good book yourself.
Remember that every child is a unique individual and what works for one may not work for another. The approach taken with my three children has been slightly different each time but the end result sees them all loving books and loving reading.