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Early talkers and readers

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boy sitting on grass reading picture book

Children begin to develop the skills they need to become confident with language from a very young age. Early literacy skills include looking at books, following a story, making marks, recognising printed writing and singing or saying rhymes.

Read aloud to your child from an early age. This is the best way to help develop children's vocabulary and teach children to recognise written words.

Parents who foster a love of reading early on give their child the best foundation to build strong literacy skills.

Literacy skills are crucial throughout your child’s school years from early education through to secondary education and in to adulthood.

Chat Play Read

Chat Play Read

Young children love it when you chat, play and read with them, even if you think they're too young to understand. You can turn almost anything into a game. And every little thing you do together will help set them up nicely for the day they start school.

And every little thing you do together will help set them up nicely for the day they start school.

Learning to talk has lots of activities and resources to help parents.

Black Country Reads

Black Country Reads is a campaign from the National Literacy Trust, working across the region in Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.

They will share useful literacy resources and fun activities from Hungry Little Minds, First Words Together and national campaign activity.

Telling stories with young children

Using picture books to share and retell stories

Watch BBC Tiny Happy People video. 

Sharing stories is a great way to help expand your child's language. Talk about what you can see, ask questions and see if your child can retell the story to you. 

Suggestions for parents

Telling stories with young children is an important building block of developing talking, reading and writing.

We know that it is important that children grow up sharing and learning to read books, but children also need to experience the joy of listening to stories without books. This is something parents and carers can do wherever they are and whenever they have a few minutes! 

Take 10 Challenge

The benefits of reading are endless. Take 10 minutes to read every day.

Sharing a book with a child is fun. It's a time for affection, laughing and talking together. And it can also give children a head start in life and help them become lifelong readers.

Reading for at least 10 minutes every day is great for your child’s happiness, wellbeing and, of course, for improving their reading and writing.

Making time to regularly read with your children can help them to:

  • Relax and unwind.
  • Escape from the pressures of life.
  • Improve memory, concentration and focus.

That's why we want everyone, from little ones and teens to parents and grandparents, to read for just 10 minutes every day!

Five tips to help your baby learn to talk

National Literacy Trust five simple steps to support your baby communicate and develop their speech.

Babies and Young Children Love Stories

Children enjoy cuddling together and the sound of your voice. we_love_storytime.png

storytime_350_350px_.pngTell stories at any time - in the bath, the garden, the car, on the bus, at mealtimes or bedtime. Children can enjoy stories about things that happen in the family try including the names of family members, pets, your street name.

storytime_350_350px_.pngTo make your stories more personal tell stories in all the languages that your family uses at home. All languages are important in your child’s development.

storytime_350_350px_.png Children like to hear stories again and again. Having favourite stories that they hear over and over builds their confidence to tell stories themselves and helps them me better readers as they get older.

Everyone can tell stories

Be playful! There are no ‘wrongs and rights’ 


Make up your story or tell versions of traditional tales. Try out different voices for the characters in the story.

storytime_350_350px_.pngAsk your child who they want to be in the story, or what will happen, this helps children become part of the story telling and keeps them involved.

storytime_350_350px_.pngRepeat phrases or sounds – this helps children enjoy repeating sounds, words and phrases as they play with language.

storytime_350_350px_.pngEncourage children to make up their own sounds and words as they join in the telling.

storytime_350_350px_.pngTry making up a story about a favourite toy, a family event, going shopping, a pet.

The more stories children hear - the more they learn

When you tell stories to your child, you are helping them to learn how stories work.


storytime_350_350px_.pngStorytelling helps children to understand that a story has a beginning and an end.

storytime_350_350px_.pngAs children learn and repeat parts of the story themselves, they too are becoming story tellers. Children can enjoy talking about what happens next in a story, this develops their language.

storytime_350_350px_.pngSimple finger puppets or objects can be useful for children to act out a story.

Parents can

Create opportunities for telling stories whenever and wherever they have time.


storytime_350_350px_.pngShow recognition of what their children know and can do are they join in the story listening and telling.

storytime_350_350px_.pngShare spontaneous and planned interactions with their children around telling stories.

storytime_350_350px_.pngBe good models of story tellers – making up stories, telling traditional tales from many cultures, using character voices, playing with words and sounds – to make storytelling fun.

Everyone loves a good story

Some parents say they don’t feel confident telling stories without a book.


storytime_350_350px_.pngMake a start, you’ll become more confident and you’ll find it’s something pleasurable to share with your child, which doesn’t cost anything at all.

storytime_350_350px_.pngStories are a really important part of children’s early learning, but above all, sharing the telling of a story can be a lovely way to spend time relaxing and having fun together!

Telling stories with young children

A series of films made for the Economic and Social Research Council 2021 Festival of Social Sciences looking at storytelling techniques, the role of stories in young children's cultural identity, and how storytelling can be used to support  young children's learning.

Book Trust Home Time

Book Trust free online books, videos and other resources for parents to use to make storytimes fun and interesting.

BookTrust Storytime

Useful Links and Resources

Literacy in Early Years 

useful resources for parents and professionals to develop literacy

Look Say Sing Play 

fun and easy tips to use with your baby

BBC Tiny Happy People

lots of activities and play ideas to boost communication skills

Book Trust

is packed full of activities,books and games. Loads of inspiration for young readers and lots of resources to make storytime fun.

Book Trust Book Finder 

lots of story time ideas

Words for Life

has lots of activities and ideas to help your child develop literacy and communication skills. Help your child become a confident talker and learner and get loads of inspiration for fun things to do with your child.

Literacy Trust

has lots of activities,free resources,parent support and the virtual school library

The Communication Trust

Communication resources for parents

Help your child become a confident talker and reader

storytime_350_350px_.pngTalk to your child as you are doing everyday things

storytime_350_350px_.pngSing and say rhymes

storytime_350_350px_.pngReading together

storytime_350_350px_.pngUse funny voices as you look through picture books

storytime_350_350px_.pngMake up stories about favourite teddies

storytime_350_350px_.pngPlay games with numbers and letters

storytime_350_350px_.pngHelp them use writing and drawing materials

storytime_350_350px_.pngEncourage your child to make marks and shapes in sand or playdough

Join your local library


How to help children learn at home

Television and digital devices

There are lots of ways to help your child to learn such as reading together and make believe play. You can use what they have watched on TV or the internet to help their learning .

Talk with them about what they are watching on TV.

Use their favourite television characters in other games and activities

Digital devices such as a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone can help some children learn.

Apps and Online Resources

Download some apps that will help children learn if your child does use them.

Set age appropriate parental controls on any devices young children are using and supervise their use of websites and apps. Seek advice on being safe on line

Try sharing things your child makes with your friends and family online and encourage others to do the same. Your child might enjoy seeing things they have made on the
screen or seeing what other children have done.

Cbeebies Keeping Safe Online

NSPCC Children's online safety

Support for multilingual families at home

Parents and children chatting together, singing songs and sharing books in their home language is a fantastic way to support children's development at this time.

The National Literacy Trust Time Together booklet is a colourful and easy-to-read guide that is full of suggestions for how parents can support their young child's learning at home. It has been translated into thirteen different languages and is available for parents and professionals to download

Download the appropriate translated booklet 

email for further help with literacy