It doesn’t always have to be a book

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One of the most important things you can do with your little one to boost their language and brain development is to read with them every day. But don’t get caught up with the idea that every book you share together needs to be a prize winner or quality literature: it doesn’t even have to be a book.

Some children will show no interest in books but will love to pore over toy catalogues or motorbike magazines. Reading a catalogue or magazine together can provide lots of opportunities for conversation and new words.

Follow your child’s lead and interests. Research tells us that the more children are engaged with what they read, the better the result. If they want to share a catalogue or magazine with you then that’s fantastic. The important thing is that you are spending time together reading and talking.

Any reading you share together - from catalogues to cookbooks to magazines - helps boost your child's vocabulary and teaches them about the connections between words and meaning.

Kick-starting conversations

Read through the description of the item, talk about the pictures, or the prices if it’s a catalogue.

You might like to ask them to point out what they like in the catalogue or magazine and then make up a funny story about it.

You could also use the pictures to share memories of holidays or adventures you’ve had together: a photo of a beach can start a conversation about a recent holiday.

Craft activity: catalogue picture scrapbooks

You could also create a scrapbook from pictures and words cut out of magazines and catalogues. Cut out your child's favourite pictures and stick them into a book.

You could write down the conversations you have about the pictures so that you can share them again with your child later. You can also try labelling the pictures and asking your child to add their own words or drawings. These collections of pictures and drawings will create more meaning for your child!

Little moments add up to big benefits

This may not seem like “reading” at first, but don't underestimate the benefits for your child. You are sharing time together, building their vocabulary and showing your child that words have meaning and can provide us with information. Finally, a wonderful use for the junk mail!

So remember, the next time you get stuck in a waiting room with your little one, or you’re looking for an activity to do with things you find around the house, don’t despair, pick up a magazine and read together. It all counts.

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