Once upon a time, (pardon the pun!) I was asked by a mum when would be a good time to start reading with their baby and my response was, right now!
As we embark on a story theme in our Whizzy Wonders baby development class, it got me thinking about the benefits of reading with our little ones. Read more to find out my views on the benefits of reading with your baby / child.
So why is it so important to start reading as early as babies?
*Language – babies are listening and comprehending language every day. Reading to our little ones helps them to hear new words and to build up their repertoire, so that they are being introduced to a rich, wide vocabulary early on.
*Bonding – there is nothing better than snuggling up with your child and looking at a book together. Simply perfect!
*Establishes routine – it is great to read books to children at any time of the day, but reading a book before bedtime is a great way to help children to calm down, have some quiet time and to begin to understand that it is soon sleep time.
*Improves memory skills – as children become familiar with books, they soon have their favourites! And as parents it can become tedious to read the same book over and over! However, just remember that repetition for little ones is so important as you are helping to build on their memory skills early on :-)
*Helps them to love reading – the earlier you start reading with children the better! You are helping your little one to love books from an early age, so if you haven’t done it already, give it a go!
What books will be good to choose for my child?
*Babies 0-6 months – there are so many lovely books out there for tiny little babies. Soft fabric books are brilliant for this age as they often have different textures for little fingers to feel, as well as being colourful with bold pictures to get babies attention.
*Babies 6-12 months – babies at this age will begin to enjoy books where they can lift-the-flaps and see what is hiding underneath. It is a fabulous opportunity for getting your little one involved in the story. Simple picture books are also great as they will expose your baby to key words and they will hear the same words over and over each time you read the story, which will help them to make connections between the picture and the word. Sound books are also great if you can bear them! Children will love to press the buttons and hear the noise – perfect for some cause and effect too! Choosing board books for this age is also a good idea as they are nice and sturdy and babies can begin to learn how to turn pages without them getting crumpled!
And why not make a cosy reading snug in your child’s bedroom? By simply placing some cushions down, or having a special reading chair and maybe even some fairy lights around will make it really inviting for your child so that they will want to sit and look at a book. Making books accessible for children is also a brilliant way of encouraging them to independently choose to look at a book. There are some lovely bookcases you can now buy, or a cheaper option could be a colourful storage box.
An alternative to reading stories is listening to them on a CD. They can be wonderful to put on for your little one if they need some quiet time and can also be really useful on a long car journey to help keep children entertained!
Books can be expensive but enjoy taking your little one to the library so they can choose different books to take home, or why not have a book swap with a friend for a week?
Tips on reading with children
Children will begin to learn sounds when they start school and it is then that they will start to learn how to read by sounding out words phonetically. And you as a parent will feel super duper proud – and so you should be!
With my qualified teacher hat on however, I will say try to not get caught up in the rat race of what colour book your child is on! It is not just about reading the book but importantly making sure that your child has an understanding of the story too and there are a few things you can do before they start school to help with this:
*As soon as you think that your child understands stories and has the language skills to be able to talk to you about the story, start by questioning your child about the text – why did that happen, what happened after…?
*If you have a story that has not been read before, look at the pictures with your child first and see if they can tell you what they think might happen before they have read it. And it is then great fun to read it and see if their predictions were right!
*Or why not make a story box? Find a few props from around the house and see if you and your child can have fun making your own story up – this is such a fun game for encouraging little ones’ imaginations to go wild!
Enjoy making reading part of your playtime and routine with your child and helping them to become a bookworm from a young age.
And they all lived happily ever after!