RichREADER, PoorREADER: Does how you read to your child really matter?

We all know that reading books is important for our child but do we know why?  If we truly understood the benefits of read alouds, would we change the way we read?

Little Birdie Book Boxes provide RichREADING activity cards in every box to accompany their carefully-selected, quality picture books.  These cards provide a key focus for parents to think about when they are reading the book.  These small changes in HOW you read will give your child an ‘educational edge’ and make your read alouds RICH and your child’s future RICH in opportunities.  Here’s how:

1. The best things about books

Books introduce our children to new worlds, helping their minds to grow and develop. Books and pictures are concrete, always there be to read again and again unlike speech which ‘disappears’ as soon as we are finished talking. Stories and words in books come back to us the same way each time we read a book. This repetition makes learning new words and ideas easier for your child.  So read their favourite story again and again…you are doing your child a solid.

Sneak Peek:  Little Birdie Book Boxes give you access to our very own YouTube channel that allows your child to read along to their new favourite picture books being read aloud by ‘yours truly’.  You can thank us later 🙂

But how can we go beyond just reading the story over and over again so much so that we can we can recite it in our sleep?

2. Not your everyday conversation

The ability to use language to think and learn is developed through the pre-school years and is fundamental to literacy and success at school. We want to foster more complex kinds of language children need to learn about the world e.g., to compare and contrast two things, to pretend and imagine, to provide explanations and descriptions. Your child will start to learn this type of language long before they actually start school and quality picture books provide the perfect platform to start these conversations.

3. Turn book reading into a conversation

Books are a rich source of language for thinking and learning. To build this type of language, we want to encourage the children take turns to contribute their thoughts and ideas throughout the reading. It involves an ongoing conversation – stopping, asking, listening, responding, explaining and commenting.

Studies show that children who participate frequently in extended conversations with adults have better language and literacy outcomes.

4. Ask, don’t test

Testing questions are not useful because they are usually too simple to be cognitively stimulating. Questions like, “What colour is that?” “What is this?” (a familiar object) or “What is he doing?” (when it’s obvious) are testing questions. Your child may answer these questions correctly but they are learning little from them, and often these questions end the conversation.

5. Balance comments and questions

If we are asking too many questions throughout our book reading, it becomes an unbalanced conversation. We all know those people who make us feel as though we are in an interview answering twenty questions – it is unnatural.  Over questioning during book reading limits the opportunities for your child to learn from you.

If adults use more abstract and sophisticated language in their conversations with children, children will raise the level of their language.


Our RichREADING activity cards give you information about the language for thinking and learning and a comprehension skill is targeted in each book box. We provide you with facts and practical tips for how to extend comprehension for your child.  Every box includes specific examples of comments and questions to try during your read alouds.

Out 6 month memberships are great for building a home library or purchase a gift box for a special someone on our SHOP page today.

We know you are reading aloud to your child everyday, why not get more bang for your buck, and become a RichREADER today!

Thanks for hearing our call,
Your Little Birdies

Weitzman, E. & Greenberg, J. (2010). ABC and Beyond: Building Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood Settings. The Hanen Centre: Toronto.

Why are good speech and language skills important for children at school?

What does “language” even mean? What is it? Well, it can be tricky to define because language is actually a lot of things! But, for the purpose of this post let’s say that language is a form of effective social communication. According to the Raising Children’s Network, language skills support your child’s ability to communicate, and express and understand feelings. It also supports thinking and problem-solving, and developing and maintaining relationships. Learning to understand, use and enjoy language is the critical first step in literacy, and the basis for learning to read and write. Continue reading “Why are good speech and language skills important for children at school?”

The nine parts of speech

To kick off the year, we’ve sharing a fun poem about parts of speech in language. As speech language pathologists, we find language fascinating and love continuing to understand how parts of speech develop in children. More on this later, but for now…ENJOY! Continue reading “The nine parts of speech”

Unboxing Happy Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and we have curated the perfect book box for you, whether you are going away or staying home. Our books and activities will keep your kids’ minds and bodies busy! Let’s show you what’s inside this FUN-FILLED book box!

Continue reading “Unboxing Happy Holidays”

When do kids grow out of “fishes” and “me do it”?

It is super cute when a child says things like “me do it” and “I ated dinner”. Their confidence combined with the grammatical error causes most parents to delight in their child’s communication skills. Let’s explore why kids make such cute grammatical errors and when you should see these errors to be replaced by the correct grammatical form of the word. Continue reading “When do kids grow out of “fishes” and “me do it”?”

5 Dumb Things Smart People Say

There is no doubt that the English language is an extremely difficult one to master and this is most certainly evident in the number of intelligent people who frequently make ‘bad Englands’.

In Australia, speech therapists are officially known as speech-language pathologists due to a large proportion of our role involving language-based disorders.  In fact, 1.1 million Australians live with this invisible disability which sadly affects all facets of their lives.  So being an ‘SLP’ or a ‘Speechie’ actually requires a solid understanding of not only development and disorders but also the English language and its complex rules.  This does not mean that we speak or write perfectly.  I am as guilty as the next person – bad habits die hard!

It is interesting to identify the theory behind why these errors are so prevalent.

So here are our top 5 English language errors that even smart people make:

1. Me, myself and I

We all understand to use ‘I’ as the subject “I ate the birthday cake” and to use ‘me’ as the object “They gave the birthday cake to me.”  However, the problem with these pronouns arises when another person is added to the sentence.  In fact, it seems our knowledge of objective and subjective pronouns goes out the window with ‘I’ being used in every scenario.

“My parents gave my sister and me a present for Christmas” will cause many well-meaning relatives or friends will correct the sentence and say “…gave my sister and I…”.  However, in this case, ‘me’ (the objective pronoun) is actually correct.

The trick is to say the sentence without the additional person in the sentence eg. “My parents gave (my sister and) ME a present for Christmas.”  Sound right? Yep.  It works. Try it!

2.  Please be more ‘pacific’ with your words…

We have all heard words pronounced incorrectly or been guilty ourselves.  Here are a few of our favourites:

  • pacific for specific
  • Vietmanese for Vietnamese
  • secetry for secretary
  • misCHIE-vi-ous for mischie-VOUS

Interestingly, these words are all multisyllabic words making them more difficult to pronounce due to the sequencing of sounds across syllables.  It may be that these words are mispronounced due to adults having residual speech errors from childhood.

Another theory is that it is the result of poor language modelling.  Other adults (parents, teachers, members of community) say the word incorrectly and the vicious cycle continues.

3.  It’s more or less right…

Many errors continue because they are not corrected by the people around them.

You may not know it is a mistake, or others may know it’s incorrect, but not bother nagging. It is then reinforced by the world around them making the same errors day in and day out. 

One case is supermarket advertising which consistently uses the term “10 items or less” when they should in fact have signs that say “10 items or fewer” as you can count the items individually.

Many errors become accepted as common usage despite being incorrect. Am I being pedantic?

4.  Sang…Sung! Tomato…Tomato!

OK, ready for a grammar lesson?

In English, we have regular past tense verbs where we add -ed to the end of words like in walk-walked.  We also have irregular past tense words where the word changes such as run-ran.  Unlike children who say “I buyed it” or “Mum bringed me to school”, most adults have irregular past tense verbs pretty much sorted bar a few exceptions.

So what are the past tense forms of these words?

Sing – is it sang or sung?   Sink – is it sank or sunk?   Ring – is it rang or rung?

Well the answer is it can be either, depending how it is used!  Sung, sunk and rung are known as past participles meaning they cannot stand alone and must have an auxiliary verb or ‘helper verb’ with them.  For example, it is not “I sung the nursery rhyme.”  It is “I sang the nursery rhyme” but can be “I have sung the nursery rhyme.”

Make sense?  So…

Who sank the boat?  The boat would have sunk regardless of which animal hopped in last.

5.  Sounds right but it’s wrong!

Irregardless is not a word.  It is simply ‘regardless’ – where you have a lack of regard for something (less of it).  Regardless of your language background or socioeconomic status, this particular error is an extremely common one.

Perhaps it stems from an overgeneralisation of the ‘ir’ prefix.  In other words that begin with ‘r’, you do add this ‘ir’ prefix to make the antonym – ‘irrespective’, ‘irresponsible’, ‘irreversible’.  However, regardless of the reasons why we misuse this word, irregardless is not a word.

What we say matters

Language is learnt through modelling.  It is the example that we model to our children and will in turn be modelled to our children’s children.  What we say is also what we write and eventually in time what we will read.

So mind your p’s and q’s when you’re speaking 😊 so we can break the cycle of errors and maintain the integrity of our very complex English language.

Do you have any pet peeves that set your teeth on edge when you hear them? If so, leave a comment below. We’d love to hate them too!

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