This Thursday is World Book Day. Children the world over will don marvellous (often lovingly home-crafted) costumes to dress as their favourite book characters. It's all about getting children in to books and reading. However, it's not all about children with literacy skills. Books are brilliant for all ages and abilities. If your child is preliterate, choose books with pictures that clearly explain the story. Take time to explore the pictures together, even if it means you end up going completely off topic from the printed words. Follow your child's lead with this - see which aspects of books and reading they enjoy and go with the flow.
For children with learning difficulties, bringing in some objects or props can help them to engage more with the story. Bag Books provide set of props which turn stories in to multi-sensory experiences, with objects, sounds, textures and smells which relate to the story (I particularly love "Gran's Visit", which includes a classic lavender perfume and a piece of tweed fabric to represent Gran! You can also easily make sensory stories yourself - just take a book you love and try to think of 1-2 items per page that will add extra sensory information.
Sometimes children prefer non-fiction books on their own topics of interest. This is common in children' with autism spectrum conditions. As always, my advice is to follow their lead and get on board with their interests. Share these books just as you would with a traditional story book.
If you want to work on story-telling and narrative skills, try using your child's topics of interest as inspiration for writing their very own story. Encourage your child to think about who they want in their story, where they want it to be set and when they want it to happen. This is usually a great start to generating a simple story. So that your child doesn't have to worry about spelling, writing or typing, they can dictate the story to you, then you can write it out. This lets them focus fully on the details of their story. To turn it in to a 'book', you can use Powerpoint to put a few sentences on each slide, add a few relevant Google images, and print.
Now then...all that's left for me to do is plan my book day costume. I should probably go for something sophisticated and grown up like Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice, but my friends wouldn't let me get away without admitting that my favourite book is actually Bridget Jones' Diary...so how does one go about dressing as a diary?