Reading is a great habit to imbibe in and with your children as its benefits are enormous.
Reading not only offers you a great opportunity for bonding with your child, it could also help boost your child’s esteem. Books are the perfect, interactive and investing in books for your baby will support their growth and development well into the future.
Every time they turn pages, point to pictures, lift a flap, or even chew on them, they add to their understanding of words and the world around them.
Best of all, reading is a fun activity that you can enjoy every day, with the knowledge that you are helping your child to develop the necessary skills they need to read and write as they get older.
Regularly cuddling your baby and sharing a book with your baby, strengthens the connections in your child’s brain and gives child the best start in life. However talking, playing and singing to your baby are just as important.
What time of day is best to read with babies?
Reading with your baby is an activity that can be done at any time of the day; however try to avoid introducing a story if your baby is tired, hungry or unsettled. Reading books at bed time is a great way to establish a night time routine but keep in mind some babies may take longer to settle into a sleep routine than others. You can try reading throughout the course of the day and see how your baby responds – before a nap, during a feed or even in the bath! Every time you read with your baby you are helping your child to understand language and building important connections in his/her brain that will help the child to communicate with you.
What types of books are suitable for babies?
For young babies it is recommended that you introduce board books which are made of durable coated cardboard. They withstand rigorous activities such as dribbling, chewing and throwing and are a great size for little hands to explore.
- Reading to your kids helps them become better readers themselves,
- Teaches infants the basics of books
- Books with diverse characters help them learn about the world.
- Reading together is also a great way to bond.
- They get quality time.
- Forms social skills in infants.
- Increases their vocabulary.
- It supports basic speaking skills.
- It is fun
Tips for reading with your baby:
- Get comfortable and turn off distractions, babies will love listening to your voice, so by switching off the TV, or moving to a quiet place this will make it easier for your babies to connect with you
- Follow your baby’s lead and if they get tired or restless, try again later. Babies have short attention spans so don’t worry if you don’t finish the whole book
- Choose books that are bright, clear and have simple pictures. Up to the age of 6 months a baby’s vision is still developing so you may find they have a preference for black and white books or those with high contrast patterns and shapes
- Sing, read and repeat! Read favourite stories and sing favourite songs over and over again. Repeated fun with books will strengthen language development and positive feelings about reading
- Talk about how we use books. Show your child how to handle books with care, holding the book the right way up. Look at the cover, read the title, begin from the front and get to the end.
- Use your library, fetes, second hand shops and markets to get a variety of books.
- Spend at least 10 wildly happy minutes every single day reading a book to children. From birth!
- Read at least 3 stories a day. It may be the same story 3 times. The child will learn something new each time.
- Read with an interesting voice. Listen to your voice – make it loud and soft, fast and slow, and high and low.
- Read to your child with joy and enjoyment. Ensure to make it a real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for your child.
- Read stories that your child loves, over and over and over again.
- Let your child hear lots of language by talking about the pictures or anything else connected to the book.
- Look for rhythm, rhyme and repetition in books; young children love it.
- Play games with the things that you and your child can see on the page, such as letting your child finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work, it’s always a fabulous game.
- As you read, think about your body position, eye contact with your child and how lively your face is.
- Read aloud every day because you just adore being with your child, not because it’s the right thing to do.
Encouragement to Read
Perhaps you feel a little self-conscious reading to your child? Maybe you have limited English language skills? Or you just want a change from the bedtime book ritual? Here are some suggestions that break away from the standard ‘read a book’ approach to encourage your child’s interest in literacy:
• Sing nursery rhymes and songs to your child regularly – the rhythmic patterns aid in text predication and will later help your child to ‘crack the code’ of reading.
• Allow infants to mouth and suck the pages of board books (under parental supervision) as this is their first “taste” of reading and it encourages them to choose and select books.
• Borrow books with just pictures and no words
• Talk to your child about what they think might happen in the story.
• Discuss the illustrations and make up your own tales together.
• Use puppets and toys as props to tell stories.
• Re-enact favourite books/tales using play dough or other open-ended materials such as leaves, twigs, pebbles, shells etc.
• Encourage your child to draw regularly. A child’s first marks and scribbles are leading to writing, which is the pre-cursor to reading.
• Play fine motor games such as puzzles with knobs as they build on the physical skills needed for pencil control.
• Chalk draw on the pavement and talk about your pictures.
• Borrow CD stories to listen to while travelling in the car or during quiet rest time.
• Make and post your own post cards and letters
• Collect catalogues and talk about the pictures such as ‘how many green items can we find?’ or ‘find the bananas’.
• Play games that encourage listening and speaking skills such as “Find something in your bedroom beginning with the ‘b’ sound” or “Animal Sound Bingo”
• Use lots of descriptive language with your child, such as “this shell is white and smooth”
• Finger paint
• Play with bubbles, slime or other gooey, messy materials. This is great for developing fine motor control and expressive speech.