Previously, in my "Encouraging Language" series, we've covered outdoor play. This time it is reading a story.

 I'm not a fan of large group reading, until the children are older. It's fine if you want the children to passively participate by listening to you, but it's very difficult to gauge how much a child is taking in - a 5 year old can cope with much more complex language than a 2 or 3 year old. In a large group, you have one adult reading and 3-4 helping to support children to listen, or bringing children back into the group. 

I find that when the language is at the right level for the child, you get less runners and more engagement.

So if the 4 adults took a book each and 7 kids, instead of 28 children listening to one story, then engagement from each child will be higher. I also recommend that groups are of a similar developmental level rather than age.

Ideas to encourage language could include the following:

  1. Ditch all the written words and simplify the language to just comment on the picture.
  2. Use repetitive language and encourage children to join in by slowing down and pausing "She said 'Wise Old Man won't you help me please, my......."
  3. Ask one of the older children to re-tell a familiar story, using the pictures to help.  Encourage vocabulary "First, then,  last"
  4. Point out the rhyming words.
  5. Create intrigue by asking the older children "I wonder what will happen next...."
  6. Encourage active listening: E.g. "when I say bear, I want you to growl and when I say ran away, let's all cheer. Or "Aaron, I'm going to ask you who fell off the broom, so listen out!" You can use a visual prompt to help Aaron remember to listen.
  7. It's great to ask the children if they liked the story with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Then of course, you'll want to ask why!


Click here to see my personal favourite top ten books for encouraging early language development. Since I've published this list I've had a whole load more suggestions of amazing books to encourage language development. Join me on facebook to continue the conversation.