Literacy Teaching Toolkit video: Making meaning: reading with children

This video reviews a range of experiences where educators read with children to develop their oral language and/or emergent literacy skills.

The educators use a range of pedagogical strategies to engage children in the reading experiences, encourage discussion and active meaning-making, and highlight language and literacy concepts within the texts.

Reflective practice


  • How the educators engage children’s interests in texts.
  • Educators making text-to-world experiences.
  • The ways that educators alternate between “reading through the text” and “talking about the text.”
  • Educators responding to children’s questions, and encouraging active discussion.
  • Educators using cloze sentences (where children are encouraged to finish the ends of sentences: for example “I can see ….” Children: “crocodile!”

Reflection questions

  • What learning did you observe? How do you know?
  • How do the educators bring the stories to life?
  • Do you notice any differences in style and strategies used by the educators with different age groups?
  • Why is it important to share books with young children at their eye level, where possible?
  • What else should educators consider when planning reading experiences?
  • What are your favourite texts to use in reading experiences? And Why?
  • After watching this video, what strategies do you plan to try out in your own practice?

Learning experience plan

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • early communicators, early language users, language and emergent literacy learners (birth – 48 months)
  • learning foci: making meaning and expressing ideas (interacting with others), grammar, concepts of print
  • teaching practices: reading with children (interacting with others), reading with children (emergent literacy).


  • Children’s books that:
    • contain engaging images and print
    • focus on themes that children can relate to
    • encourage interaction and conversation during the reading experience
    • provide opportunities to highlight language and literacy concepts (for example rhyme, concepts of print, vocabulary)
    • include repetition of ideas and language to allow children to join in.
  • A comfortable and inviting space to read with children.

Featured texts:

  • Growl like a tiger by Alison Lester
  • The wheels on the ute go round and round by Loraine Harrison and Claire Richards
  • One woolly wombat by Kerry Argent.
  • There was an old lady by Child's Play (International) Ltd
  • Where is galah? by Sally Morgan.

Group size

Individuals or small group (2-5 children).

Links to VEYLDF

Outcome 5: communication

Children engage with a range of texts and get meaning from these texts

  • view and listen to printed, visual and multimedia texts and respond with relevant gestures, actions, comments and/or questions
  • begin to understand key literacy and numeracy concepts and processes, such as the sounds of language, letter–sound relationships, concepts of print and the ways that texts are structured.
  • explore texts from a range of different perspectives and begin to analyse the meanings
  • actively use, engage with and share the enjoyment of language and texts in a range of ways

Victorian  Curriculum levels F-2: literature

  • Respond to texts, identifying favourite stories, authors and illustrators (VCELT170)
  • Share feelings and thoughts about the events and characters in texts (VCELT171).

General strategies demonstrated in video

Introducing the text (learning focus – concepts of print):

  • making sure to discuss the title, author, and ask children what they think the text will be about (even with very young children).

Dialogic reading strategies to develop children’s oral language (learning focus – making meaning).

Bringing the story to life (learning focus – speech sounds; conversational and social skills) using:

  • spoken words
  • voice
  • gestures, body language and facial expressions
  • characterisation.

Facilitating emergent reading comprehension (learning focus–making meaning), by encouraging:

  • use of background knowledge
  • predicting
  • visualising
  • asking and answering questions
  • summarising.

Highlighting concepts of print, by using non-verbal and verbal print referencing:

  • pointing to print
  • tracking print
  • questions about print
  • comments about print
  • requests about print.

Pointing out other language and literacy concepts within the text, including:

  • concept development and vocabulary
  • story structure
  • phonological awareness
  • early phonics
  • visual literacy.

Going further

Any reading experience can be extended by:

  • allowing children to independently explore the text
  • providing resources for children to re-enact the text through sociodramatic play
  • creating a hands-on play experience based on some of the characters, events, or settings from the book
  • encouraging children to participate in fine arts, storytelling or drawing telling experiences, to express what they enjoyed in the text.

Related videos and learning experience plans


Experience plans

Links to sections