| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Are you sitting comfortably?

Apparently, the greatest gift is a passion for reading. Make sure your little one receives it with the same excitement as a new toy

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1 Read aloud every day
Australian author Mem Fox reckons we should read three stories a day to our kids – even, heaven help us, if it’s the same story three times. Set aside a special time – just before bed is good – and make stories part of your routine. But don’t pin reading down to just one session; be flexible and ready to break into storytime morning, noon and night.

2 Vary the location
If you always read on the bed or the couch, why not get creative – particularly as you’ll be indoors a lot over the summer. You could create a ‘reading tent’ with a blanket and a couple of chairs, crawl under and get engrossed in a few old favourites. If it’s cool enough, move outside and read under a tree or dig out some old magazines or bath books and have a story session while wallowing in the paddling pool.

3 Have stuff to read in every room
Keep reading materials in the bathroom (they can help coax a child to stay on the loo or potty), in the car and, ideally, in every room in the house. Don’t just read books – encourage kids to read magazines, comics, road signs, the back of cereal packets and so on.

4 Use props
‘When we read Tin Tin Goes To Mars my father would come upstairs with a colander on his head,’ says Neil Griffiths, the brains behind Storysacks, where books are accompanied by soft toys, CDs, non-fiction books and so on to help bring the story to life. Props aren’t cheating (and even if they are, so what?) and they don’t have to be fancy. Flicking the light on and off to signal a storm, climbing under the covers and reading with a torch at the scary bit in Wind in the Willows or simply putting some of your child’s stuffed animals to work for Old MacDonald will do just fine.

5 Ham it up
Go faster or slower, louder or quieter depending on the plot, and don’t forget to use pauses for effect or to encourage kids to join in. As Fox says, ‘Read aloud, with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, flat or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.’ Get into character, using different voices and accents. Even if you feel a bit daft at first, you’ll grab your kids’ attention. ‘You have to become a theatrical performer,’ says Griffiths. ‘Use a few props to give you confidence, let go a bit and be magical.’

By Karen Iley
Time Out Dubai,

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