Sharing clues while you read

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Children love picture books. But did you know how a book can also create a conversation with your child? Reading with your child promotes brain development and imagination and teaches your child about language and emotions.

Books have lots of different features you can share

As you read and look at the illustrations together, it’s important to share all the features of the book, including looking at the front and back cover, the pictures and the feel and shape of the book. These features all provide clues about the story and help you to engage in conversation with your child.

Try these ideas to interest your child in sharing stories

To help you engage in conversation, here are some questions you can ask:

  1. Try holding the book upside down, see if your child notices and ask if that is how you read the book!
  2. If you’re reading a book with a familiar character, ask them what they think the character will get up to this time?
  3. Starting with the cover, ask what they think the story will be about and are there any words or letters they know?
  4. If the inside cover has pictures or words that sum up what the book is about, point these out before you begin.
  5. Once inside, the print can help guide the tone you use and provide visual clues about the story for your child.  Big bold capitals with exclamation marks can mean shouting and drama; where tiny print might call for you to whisper. Have a go at using different voices for each character to help child engage your child into the story. Make it a bit silly and they'll love your enthusiasm!
  6. As you read, stop and talk about some of the words. Ask your child to point to the picture that matches the word. 
  7. You can add your own words to wordless books. Wordless books are great in any language - share the story in your own language as you'll have more words to choose from.
  8. Point out a picture on the back cover or go back to the cover, look at the pictures and talk about the story you have just read. Ask your child what they thought. Beware! They may want you to read it again!

More resources to explore

Explore these articles for more ideas on sharing stories and print:

Watch the First 5 Forever storytelling video for more ideas about sharing stories. It features the following titles:

  • Blabey, Aaron. (2015). I Need a Hug. Sydney. Scholastic Australia.
  • Allen, Pamela (2009) Shhh! Little Mouse. Sydney Penguin Books Australia.
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