Putting on an animated voice helps give story time a 'wow factor'
That bedtime story, or indeed reading a book to a child at any time of the day, plays a huge role in developing language and reading skills.
Joan Kiely of the teacher training college, Marino Institute of Education, runs The Story Time Project with a number of schools and early childhood settings on the northside of Dublin, encouraging parents to read to their children.
While much of her work is with marginalised communities, others have also benefitted from her reading workshops. About 600 parents have participated in the project since 2010.
Like all her projects, Story Time is rooted in research and has been tried and tested, which, she insists, is an essential prerequisite for education initiatives.
Literacy tell-tale signs are there from an early age. "There is a relationship between the language competency of a child at the age of three and their ability to read at seven," she says.
Her simple strategies for reading to young children include putting on an animated voice to help bring characters alive and to give the story a wow factor.
She says it is also important to relate the story to a child's life. "For instance , when reading 'Hansel and Gretel', you might say to a child, 'remember the time you got lost in the supermarket?'"
Engaging the child with open-ended questions and reading stories in a speculative way to draw the child out, are also useful tools: "Wonder with them, such as 'I wonder why did Goldilocks go into the house.' The child will feel you are in the same state of ignorance," she says.
The Story Time Project runs in association with The Northside Partnership and Dublin City Libraries, and among the books read by the recent participants are 'Alfie Gets in First', 'Peace at Last', 'Love from Louisa', 'Rita Rhino' and 'Imaginary Fred'.