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Reading to children gives them a chance to feel loved and learn by repetition. Includes tips for making a special book and for parents who don't read well.

When parents read to their children it’s a great chance to share time, books and attention, and cuddle up together. It’s a rich (multi-sensory) experience, and helps children feel loved – which is when they learn best.

Repetition means better connections

Babies and toddlers thrive on repetition, because it builds strong brain connections – so whānau can expect to be reading the ‘favourites’ many times over.

In the Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 3 (page 15), pēpi says: ‘I have my favourite pukapuka and recognise and respond to the pictures.’

Ask whānau:

  • Does your child have a favourite book?
  • Yes – That’s fantastic – can you tell me about it?
  • How long has it been a favourite?
  • Do you want to show me?
  • Shall we see how they respond to it today?
  • They don’t have a favourite?
  • Do they enjoy being read to?
  • Do you enjoy reading?
  • Is there someone in the whānau who likes reading?

For parents who don’t like to read

If parents have difficulty reading, encourage them to look at the pictures with their child and talk about them, name the objects and make up a story about the pictures.

There’s often an opportunity to make a special book about ‘me’ (the child), like ‘When Nana came to stay’, or to make up and tell a favourite story.

Storytelling is very important too. For example, ‘The night I was born’, can be told over and over again, especially on birthdays.

Sharing reading

Sharing books with children also helps them to:

  • learn and practise hearing and using new words
  • learn ideas and about the way language works
  • learn about a different kind of language – the language in books can be quite different from how we speak.

And it’s comforting to snuggle up with someone you love and share a story together. All you have to do is enjoy the moment.

What more about books and reading to children would you like to find out?

How does this relate to Tākai resources

Baby wall frieze – Pānuitia taku tino kōrero – anō, anō – Read my favourite story again and again

Six things children need – Te kōrero me te whakarongo – Talking and listening

Helpful resources for whānau