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Let’s Read With Children

 In the present world, most parents are working. Thus, the time spent with the children is limited. This reduces the communication between parents and children.

The Benefits of Reading Books with Children

  • Able to spend time to communicate with children
  • Able to develop the child’s mind
  • Connects the children to the reality and new world around them
  • Able to understand facts of life and people
  • Learning of new vocabularies, word forms, sentence structures, stories, rhymes and songs
  • Pictures and words in the book can be seen and read many times
  • An important and enjoyable activity for children
  • Forms the foundation for reading and writing skills

Types of Books According to the Communication Development of Children

According to the Hanen (2004) approach, it is important for parents to identify the level of communication (understanding and production of language) of the child; children can either be at the level of discoverers, communicators, first word users or combiners.

 Stage of Communication


Sample of books


Children is unable to understand pictures or words in the book

  • Plastic or hard cover books similar to toys.
  • Picture books of people, objects, and actions that is bright and colourful.
  • Books that have rhyme, rhythm, repetition or simple sentences.
  • Interactive books which have sounds when pressed or books with different textures when touched.


Child is able to understand a few words and recognizes a few pictures.

Child has a favourite book and wants the book to be read repetitively.

  • Books with hard sheets.
  • Books with rhyme, rhythm, and repetition like “mana kucing, mana kucing, di dapur di dapur…..”
  • Picture books with realistic and bright coloured pictures.
  • Interactive books that can be touched, make sounds and can move.

First words users

Child is able to follow simple stories and loves to listen to stories that are read by the parents repetitively. 

  • Firm books with pictures or photos that is colourful and simple.
  • Books with rhyme, rhythm, and repetition that are fun
  • Interactive books
  • Theme  books
  • Books with short and simple stories
  • Self-made books (example: family album)


The child understands a lot of words and ideas.

The child understands and knows the storyline that is more complex; and is able to talk about the characters and events.

The child begins to take the role while reading the book. The child also sits and interacts with the parents for a longer period of time.

  • Books with predictable storylines
  • Books with repetition of words or   phrases
  • Books that consist of characters with simple storyline
  •  Interactive books
  • Theme books
  • Books that can introduce a new idea (e.g. :dinosaur books)
  • Children’s books based on the child’s experience (e.g .visit to the state zoo)
  • Imaginative books (example: fairy tale and ghost books)

Reading Tips with Children

  • Tip one: Give the child the chance to take turns
    Do the reading activity together. Let the child choose the book that they want to so that it is more fun for the child.
  • Tip two: Change the words
    Parents are free to tell a story using simple word. This helps the child to understand and repeat the words.
  • Tip three: Use the 4S strategy – Say Less, Stress, Go Slow dan Show
    1. Say less. Use words that are usually heard by children. Use short sentences to help the child understand and learn words.
    2. Stress on words that are important and add sound effects so that the child feels the excitement (example animals or vehicle sounds). Use different intonation and facial expression to make the story interesting.
    3. Read with a slow rate of speech so that the child have time to understand the words that is being heard. Give time for the child to take turns.
    4. Show the words that are being read when telling a story. Show action and movement that are suitable. Use toys or objects to make the story more realistic.
  • Tip four: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat the word.

    Children like to hear the same stories repeatedly. Allow first word users and combiners a chance again. This encourages the child to repeat the words that were read before. The more the child hears the word repeatedly, the more chances for the child to use the same word. In return, the child’s vocabulary will also improve.

Suggestion of Activities that Helps Speech through Reading

  • Through the Hanen (2004) approach, there are three types of self-made books that can be done which are:-
    A child’s favourite picture. Stick pictures of animals, games or activities that are preferred by children. Give a name to the book that is made on the cover of the book.
    Interactive books. The paper is shaped into flap book or books that can be touched with various textures. This enables the child to touch and feel the picture.
    Resource: flickr

    Picture books about special days or occasions. Photos taken while the child visits the zoo or during vacation with the family. Paste the photos in the photo album.

    • Use realistic action pictures. This enables the child to learn the language and increase their vocabulary.
    • Take various sequential pictures so that the child can learn the action and emotion based on an event that occurred.
    • Label pictures so that the language input is more consistent and equivalent to the child’s language ability. Repeat words to help the child predict the word that is to be used.

In a nutshell, make the best use of opportunity to read storybooks with the child. Make the reading activity interesting and entertaining. Have fun with your child while reading. Good luck.


  1. Pepper, J. & Weitzman, E. (2004). It Takes Two to Talk®: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays.2nd ed. Toronto: The Hanen Centre.
  2. Repplinger, L. Literacy Activities for Infants and Toddlers [PDF Document]. Retrieved from  Lecture Notes Online Website:  http://www.infanthearing.org/meeting/ehdi2010/ehdi_2010_presentations  


Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer / Translator : Nurshahira binti Razali
Accreditor : Nur Fariha bt. Md. Shah
Reviewer : Nadwah bt. Onwi