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Twins & Multiples Celebrate World Book Day

It's never too early to start reading to your twins. Research has indicated that even infants can benefit from being read to. As your twins grow. make reading a daily part of their routine. Finding the time to sit down and read a book after a long day can be difficult. Sometimes it feels easier to tuck them in bed than to take the time to read. I encourage you to spend a few minutes reading a book because the benefits will last your twins a lifetime. Reading to your twins will improve their language, vocabulary, attention and future reading success.

Here are some generally helpful tips when reading to your twins:

  • Try and find some individual time to read with each of your twins - I know easy said than done !
  • When you read to your twins. try to limit distractions with other books or toys.
  • Reading time should be "together time" with Mummy and/or Daddy and books.
  • Read with animation in your voice to gain their attention.
  • Talk about other pictures in the books that may be unrelated to the actual story.
  • Once your twins are familiar with the books. encourage their participation.
  • Allow them to finish a line in the story or point and name pictures in the book.
  • Ask them to find pictures in the book. and ask questions about the book as you read.

TwinsUK have a wide selction of the best children's books about twins. triplets and multiple births ranging from picture board books for babies and toddlers. early reading books for pre-schoolers through to books aimed at young school children and teenagers. 

As children grow. so do their attention spans. They also become more coordinated and independent. Therefore how you read with your child should change. too.

Babies and Toddlers

As babies. children learn by using their senses to distinguish differences between objects and explore the world around them. By age two. a child's oral language skills are usually advanced enough to be able to identify objects and communicate ideas. It is important to use activities and books to support and encourage these emerging abilities.

To enrich the reading experience with very young children:

  • Sing lullabies and songs
  • Choose picture books with one or two clear. simple & colourful pictures per page.
  • Read each twins" favourite books often. Repetition will create familiarity and associations. which help your children develop language.
  • Choose board or plastic books so that your twins can explore the cover and pages safely.
  • Stimulate their senses by choosing books that have different textures. smells or sounds.
  • Engage them physically in reading by clapping out rhymes or bouncing on your knee as you tell a story.
  • Read simple. soothing "goodnight" books before bedtime.

Preschoolers (Three to Five Years)

Children in this age group begin to understand the difference between words and the objects they stand for. As they explore. children begin to grasp concepts like shapes. numbers. colours and seasons. This is also a time when children see themselves as the "centre of the universe!"

To enrich the reading experience with very young children:

  • Read stories with catchy. repeated phrases. Books with lots of rhyming words and nonsense words are great for this age. Dr Seuss is very popular !
  • Look for sturdy. pop-up and pull-tag books to foster each of your children's coordination skills.
  • Choose short stories that relate to everyday events.
  • Try different books that focus on important concepts. like ABCs. counting. colours and shapes.
  • Select books about real things. like animals or cars. Kids this age love non-fiction.
  • Expand your children's world by reading folk tales and fairy tales from different countries.
  • Introduce longer stories and more detailed pictures. keeping in mind their attention span.
  • Look for stories that can be acted out. like "The Three Little Pigs."

Assessing Twins Reading Skills at Pre-school Age

It is not unusual for any parent who has more than one child to notice differences between their children in learning styles and in meeting milestones of growth and development. With twins and other multiples. individual differences can be particularly striking because although each child is exposed to the same home environment and learning conditions at precisely the same age. the pace of development can still vary widely between them.

As a mother of twins myself. I see dramatic differences in my own girls. now just over 3 years old. What I try to do is to observe closely not only the skills they have appeared to learn individually. but also how they manifest these skills when interacting with one another. Twins often have a unique shared knowledge base that can mask what each is individually capable of. Additionally. one may take a social lead more often. demonstrating what she knows. while the other may be more content to quietly follow. 

The best way to assess your children's reading skills at age 3 is to take note of the whole range of their language and literacy abilities. To achieve success in learning to read. children must have strong oral-language skills. including a wide and deep listening and speaking vocabulary. They must have plenty of exposure to books. both hearing them read aloud and exploring them on their own. And finally they need to have plenty of opportunities to write and draw. using a variety of pencils. crayons. chalk. and kinds of paper.

Reading is a complex set of skills that includes specific abilities. such as naming letters of the alphabet and knowing their sounds. as well as broader abilities such as understanding that there are different kinds of print (stories. newspapers. lists. labels. and so on).

Here is a short list of some reading and language skills that is appropriate for preschool when children reach four years of age. There is no linear approach to reach them and your twins will likely meet different milestones at different times and yet still achieve more independent success in reading in the nursery and early school years.

By age 4:

  • Recognize 10 or more letters of the alphabet
  • Know some sounds that letters make
  • Find the front cover of a book and leaf through the pages
  • Retell a story by looking at the pictures
  • Recognize one's own name in print
  • Recite favourite nursery rhymes
  • Predict what will happen next in a story
  • Read or recognize print around them in the environment. such as a stop sign
  • Make scribbles that resemble letters
  • Make actual letters. such as those in one's name

Use this as a beginning guideline to help each of your twins along their individual literacy paths. For more information on assessing communication development from 0 to 6 years. see also Twins Tips - Language & Development Articles :-

Language Development in Twins. Triplets & Higher Order Multiples

Twin Language - Talking the Same Talk

If you suspect one or both of your twins has a speech and language delay. discuss your concerns with your health visitor or GP as a first step. They can help you determine if a speech and language evaluation is needed and can recommend a speech-language therapist in your area. Also. you can contact the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists who may be able to advise you.

Resources : Adapted from articles from the National Center for Family Literacy. a national non-profit organization that recognized worldwide as the leader in family literacy development. Paula Moss. Speech-Language Pathologist and Mother of 10 month old twins. Mindy Hudon. M.S.. CCC-SLP. is a speech-language pathologist and the mother of 4-year-old fraternal twin boys.

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