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Dad reads baby in blue clothes a childrens picture book

Developing Literacy Skills at Home

Shared book reading is an activity many of us have incorporated into our child’s routine since birth and is a great activity to build and grow pre-literacy skills. For parents, it shouldn’t be about ticking a book off your to do list but understanding what you can achieve by reading a particular book.

Montrose Speech Pathologist Genie uses shared book reading in her clinical practice as she believes it is a great base for growing phonological awareness in early years, and building receptive and expressive language skills.

Montrose Speech Pathologist Genie reading a book to two little girls with brown hair

We’ve shared some tips on how to turn your night time routine into a learning opportunity:


Use Blanks Levels of Questioning and appropriately move through the four levels to encourage development of general language and vocabulary, as well as comprehension, reasoning, inferencing, predicting and problem-solving skills.


Before reading a book, ask your child what they can see on the front cover. This builds receptive language and vocabulary. For older children, build your child’s expressive language, inferencing and problem-solving skills by asking ‘WH’ questions like ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’. For example: If there is a bear on the cover and the title is ‘The very hungry bear’, you could ask your child questions that predict what might happen – like what will the bear eat? Who will the bear it? Or why will the bear eat it?


When reading to younger children, ask questions based on their cognitive development to build receptive language, like ‘What is this?’ ‘Who is that?’ or  ‘Where is ___?’


Build awareness of different emotions when reading to your child by asking questions like ‘does the person look happy, sad or angry?’ and ‘Why might they feel that way?’


Explain concepts to your child – like the difference between who writes the book and who draws the pictures (Authors and Illustrators). This allows your child to recognise the association of words.


Sit across from your child when reading instead of beside them. Holding the book close to your face allows your child to look at the print, pictures and your face all at the same time. For younger children, being able to see your facial expression and watch your mouth make sounds is a crucial part of developing their speech and language skills, and later on their literacy.

For Children with ASD, holding a book close to your face allows you to shift their attention from the book to your face by looking at it together. It encourages the development of joint attention skills and fosters their receptive and expressive language as you change your facial expressions to represent different emotions.

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