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5 Ways to Use... Books

Books are a great tool to use to develop your child's interaction and communication skills and are something nearly all of us have at home already! By using books in different ways when reading with your children you can engage them at a range of levels and begin to use them to develop and extend their language.

1. Labelling

Books are a great way to experience and label a range of objects and items that you may not see in everyday life. Even if your child cannot follow the story within the book you can simply look at the pictures together and label items on the page. Children often go through a phase of pointing to things to have them named/labelled by their adult and books are no different so follow their lead and label, label, label!

2. Sentence Completion

Lots of children's books are very repetitive and predictable, or children will often have their favourite books which they eventually learn by heart. By stopping before the end of a sentence and waiting you naturally prompt your child to fill in the blank, using their expressive language to do so. You may stop to give them space to say just a single word to finish the sentence, or whole phrases if they can!

3. Repetition

As stated in the last point, children's books are often highly repetitive. This exposes your child to the same language over and over in a rhythmic and predictable way which makes it easier for them to learn and reproduce. Find books that are repetitive enough that your child quickly becomes familiar with them and you can use the strategy above to elicit lots of language.

4. Sabotage

Sabotage is one of my favourite ways of eliciting language and communication from children, and that is intentionally making mistakes! When reading familiar books make intentional and obvious errors - "Jack and Jill went up the PINEAPPLE" - and wait for your child's reaction. They will need to find a way to communicate with you that you have made a mistake and will most likely correct you (once they have the language to do so). Children also find it funny to see adults make mistakes.

5. Use their Interests

If your child has particular interests these can (usually) be incorporated into books to increase their interest and attention when reading together. Find books their include their favourite characters, TV shows, or topics, or allow them to choose their own books to increase interest and engagement.

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