How can reading be more playful?

Play is a powerful tool for children's language development. Here's why playful reading is so important.

Play is a powerful tool for children's language development. When children engage in playful storytelling activities - where they can express themselves through different materials, like painting, arts, building with LEGO bricks, writing stories, or using imaginative play - they naturally enhance their language skills in a fun and natural way. Play encourages children to interact meaningfully with objects and peers, promoting the use of words and storytelling, and children often imitate characters and scenarios from books or their own imagination during play, enhancing their narrative competence.

Despite these opportunities, children do not always default to play, especially in school environments. Based on a new design-based research project and the science of learning through play, we developed five key recommendations on how books can better encourage creative storytelling and imaginative play. 

Provide a Meaningful Background to Inspire Play
Ensure Connections to Toys
Use Open-Ended Prompts for Storytelling
Promote Digital Documentation
Encourage Social Interactions

Books are typically designed as passive, non-play activities, but our research suggests that with a few small changes, books can open a world of imaginative play, helping children further develop their comprehension and storytelling skills.

Keen to learn more about the research into playful reading? Dive into the full report right here