One of the greatest gifts from parents to their child is a love for the written word.

Start by reading to your child and a good time to start is at about three months of age when the eyes start following moving objects - an ability known as visual tracking. Start with simple picture books, read aloud, and point to the words and accompanying pictures as you progress through the book. Let your child see you turning the pages too.

It may be some time before your child can independently read simple words, but exposure to sounds, letters and words at an early stage, can nurture joy and good foundation for reading.

Reading is a vital skill for daily life and it applies to school, work, travel or just navigating the Internet, to identify and process the information.

Children who enjoy reading broaden their knowledge easily especially if they read a wealth of subject matter. Diving into the pages of a well-loved fairytale can also stimulate creativity and imagination. The more books read, the more your child improves linguistic skill and knowledge. Especially in current times with electronic books (eBooks) available, reading for your child is even more exciting. Look up eBooks suitable for preschoolers at your local library.

Introducing TumbleBook Library

Want your child to enjoy books with a difference? The National Library Board (NLB) has the TumbleBook Library which is a collection of eBooks suitable for preschoolers. This user-friendly resource allows you to access children’s books for reading online and the best part about them is the animation, sound, music and narration which makes the stories magical for your child.

To access TumbleBook Library, go to ”
http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg” and log in with your NRIC number (or membership ID), name and date of birth. Once you successfully log in, select ‘eBooks’ from the menu on the left, scroll down and select ‘TumbleBook Library’ from the menu list.

To select a picture book, select ‘Index’ from the menu bar to view a list of titles. Pick your title of interest and read the synopsis of the work to your child. If your child likes the preview, proceed with the story by selecting ‘Read Online’. A Reading Level indicator on this page will help you decide if the content is suitable for your child. Reading Levels are general guidelines to gauge content suitability. Children are unique and reading skills can develop differently for each individual.

The eBook has the option for audio narration but you can read the book to your child if you want. Illustrations in these eBooks are the same as those in physical copies. In some eBooks though, there may be animations, such as a moving eyebrow or hand. And as these books are meant for pre-schoolers, most have short sentences and simple vocabulary. Most of the time though, the visuals alone can tell the story.

Do note Adobe Flash plugin is needed for browsers to effectively display these eBooks. For many of the picture books, TumbleBook Library provides fun and absorbing related educational activity like ‘Word Search’ and ‘Memory Game’.

eBooks and your child

The following are tips for making the eBook experience beneficial for parent and child.

Read the eBook with your child

Make it a relaxed, fun session that is a time of bonding for you and your young one.

Use the pictures

Illustrations and animations often show details not found in the text. These provide opportunities for your child to spot interesting details like the shape and colour of the glasses, or the number of freckles on a story character's cheeks.

In-story objects, characters and events

Ask questions to your child about objects, characters and developments of the story to encourage contextual learning of new words. This exercise also teaches description. You could prompt your child with questions like: “What colour is the ball?” or “What do you think will happen next?" 

Use audio narration

If you have read the eBook to your child, you may want to use the audio narration of the eBook when your child revisits this title. Audio narration is voiced with much personality to let your child enjoy the story.

Role play and have fun with storytelling

Get your child to play one character while you be another. Take turns telling parts of the story to each other.

Above all, have fun!

Make reading an enjoyable time and remember to explore the many educational activities each eBook provides.

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Contributed by:
Early Childhood Development Agency