Reading to a child is one of life's greatest pleasures. Sparking their imaginations from an early age and creating memories throughout life, each household has their favourite books and it's something we're able to enjoy as a family from a very early age.

But reading can also have significant benefits for your child's development. From helping their ability to focus to supporting their communication skills, teaching them about the world and creating a relaxed environment, sitting down to enjoy a story together is really a magical thing.

To enhance this further, playing alongside listening to a story being told has so many additional benefits for you and your children. It's called 'bookish play', and is brilliant for keeping their attention, retaining the story and inspiring their little imaginations.

Children love make-believe, so by giving them the tools to play alongside a favourite book allows them to re-enact the story, explore characters they've heard about and really take in every word. It can help with their language and literacy skills through discussions about the plot, as well as giving them the opportunity to develop their emotional literacy skills by acting out the characters in the book and seeing the story from their perspective. It's very simple to create fun and interactive activities around the books in your collection, and it's something we love to share inspiration for.

It was this that inspired our new Christmas Play Kits this year, both of which come with a beautiful, hardback book. Our bestselling Winter Express Kit is accompanied by The Polar Express, and the new Holly Fairy Kit is joined by the stunning A Natural History of Fairies - either would really make an incredible gift.

Of course, playing alongside reading isn't just for Christmas! We often share our favourite themed play ideas on our social media channels and here on the blog.

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