Expert Articles

The Power of Shared Reading

Author: Karen KEI
Speech and Language Therapist

Shared reading is an interactive reading experience that happens when the children join in or read together while guided by an experienced reader. This could be parents, caregivers, siblings, or teachers. In shared reading, children learn to observe and participate in reading, learn essential concepts of how print works, get the feeling of learning and become an avid reader themselves. 

What is the difference between shared reading and a read aloud?

The difference between shared reading and a read aloud is that during a read aloud, you are reading TO the child; and during shared reading, you are reading WITH the child. Children benefit from shared book reading because they become more engaged and take an active role and talk about their interests. They are being introduced to new ideas and more advanced language such as complete sentences and vocabulary that they might not hear in everyday conversations and situations.

Why should I read with my child?

 Some of the benefits of shared reading includes:

  • A relaxing way to bond with your child
  • Develop language and literacy skills
  • Strengthen observation skills
  • Improve cognitive skills
  • Promote social interaction skills 
  • Encourage predictions and problem solving skills
When should I start reading with my child?

Shared reading can start as young as the first year of a child’s life. Make reading part of their daily routine and a special moment between you and your child.

What should I read with my child?

Anything! It can be a picture book, a family photo album, or an advertising leaflet! Some common types of  books include: 

  • Board books
  • Interactive flip flap books
  • Books with sound effects
  • Picture story books
  • Books with repetitive and predictable text
  • Nursery Rhymes
  • 100 words books
Can I read the same book over and over again?

Definitely! Children learn best through repetition. Re-reading a book helps children to become familiar with a wide range of words and everyday concepts. Reading the same book over and over again can provide a little structure and routine which some children find comforting and in control. 

What should I do when reading with my child?

For 0-12 months

  • Read books that have simple pictures, patterns and bright colours. 
  • Read books with different textures (e.g. cloth, water-proof materials, vinyl)
  • Encourage your child to explore through ‘mouthing’. Make sure to choose books that are sturdy and easy to clean. 
  • Ask your child to turn the pages and point out different objects. 
  • Respond to your child’s cooing.

For 12-24 months

  • Read books that emphasise everyday routines, such as bath time, mealtime or getting ready for bed. Your child will learn to connect with the characters doing the same thing they do. 
  • Use finger puppets. Pair books with finger puppets to support understanding and interaction. It is also a great way to sustain their interest and attention span. 
  • Add sound effects. Read in an animated and excited tone to make the story come alive. Include playful sounds such as animal sounds and environmental sounds to encourage imitation. 
  • Encourage your child to clap, tap or sing along to rhyming books.

For 24-36 months 

  • Make connections with real life situations. Connect what they have learnt in the book with their everyday life. Point out events in stories that also happen in your child’s life. 
  • Create your own book. Make your own scrapbooks or photo albums filled with pictures of family members, friends, or a family trip. This will encourage your child to share and get involved.
  • Invite your child to read with you. Encourage your child to take the lead by reading books that they are familiar with. 
  • Allow creativity and imagination. Reading the same book over and over again can become a routine. Make small changes such as changing character names or ending to make it fun and imaginative.
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The Power of Shared Reading