The Gift of Reading

Written by admin, December 6, 2012

December 6, 2012 – Include Books on Your Holiday Shopping List to Boost Children’s Speech and Language Skills

Local residents can turn a page on the usual holiday gift-giving ideas by including the printed word for children on their shopping lists.

Reading books that are interesting, engaging and age-appropriate can be a great way for adults and children to spend quality time together. Reading helps to improve children’s speech and language skills, according to Peterborough Public Health.

“Books are a great stocking stuffer or gift item to put under the tree,” says Leisa Baker, a Public Health Nurse with Public Health. “For a low-tech item, books can be high-impact when it comes to improving children’s communication skills and nurturing their love of reading.”

In Ontario, it is estimated one in ten preschool children has a communication delay. Reading with a child can head off potential problems, since it stimulates speech and language development as adults share new words and meanings. This, she notes, provides an essential building block for success in school.

Baker’s advice for wrapping up the ideal book for the holiday season is simple: “Be sure it is age-appropriate, and something that your child will want to pick up and read.”


  • small cloth or board books with single or rhyming words
  • simple pictures such as faces or animals    
  • like enthusiasm and facial expressions

One to two years:

  • rhyming board books with interactive features such as textures, holes, or flaps for lifting
  • pictures they can relate to and learn the words
  • want to learn how to hold a book and turn pages

Two to three years:

  • have favourite books and are able to predict what may happen next
  • choose books that describe a series of events
  • like you to ask questions and give them time to answer

Three to four year olds:

  • longer books with more predictable and repetitive words
  • model correct sounds and grammar
  • like when you pause to let them fill in words and phrases

Four to five year olds:

  • will memorize words of favourite books
  • point to words and sounds at the start of words
  • like to tell stories; encourage using words such as first, then and last

Five to six year olds:

  • enjoy more complex words such as before/after and  rough/smooth
  • like books about numbers and quantity of objects, such as more/less and one/many    
  • may like to hear you talk and then create their own version of a story

 Six years and beyond:

  • continue to read out loud especially at bedtime    
  • share books from school and make reading fun
  • take turns reading to each other, alternate pages       

Giving a child the choice to pick his or her own book can also be an option for a gift, she adds. Gift certificates to a local bookstore can spur children to choose a book that they are more likely to read. If children are dreaming about high-tech gadgets this holiday season, families may want to consider an electronic book reader to fulfill gift expectations – and encourage reading. If costs are an obstacle to gift-giving, Baker suggests taking a child to the local library over the holidays and getting him or her to sign up for a library card. “It can give them independence and ownership to what they want to read, as well as introduce them to a world of books that’s available at their fingertips,” she notes.

For local residents who have questions about ways to encourage reading, or who want to find out more about their child’s speech and language skills, visit or call Public Health at 705-743-1000.


For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Officer
(705) 743-1000, ext. 391