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Reading to Baby: When to Start and How to Do It Well

By Jamell Andrews

In the age of television, internet, and ubiquitous gadgets, there is something refreshing about the quiet act of reading a good book. And although childcare experts say reading to a child has little significant effect until he or she is around the six-month mark, it is never too early to get started. Young children may not get the same things out of books that we do, but the reading experience is valuable for a number of reasons, and reading daily to your baby is a crucial stepping stone toward future linguistic and educational development.

Reading to a newborn?

Newborns seem sleepy most of the time, and even when awake they seem to have trouble focusing on things. Yet even at this early stage, reading to a child is a valuable bonding experience. Here are a few reasons why reading to a newborn can be beneficial, even if the baby does not realize what is happening.

  • Reading to a newborn gives new parents the chance to practice their children’s-book reading voices, which can be a little stilted at first.
  • For first-time parents especially, reading children’s books helps immerse you into the world of children’s culture. If all goes well, by the time your child is old enough to fully understand books, you will have a clear sense of what types of books, characters, stories, themes, and messages you want your child exposed to. It will also help you weed out any books that you do not want in your child’s collection.
  • If you find yourself unsure of what to say to your newborn, or if you keep using the same words and phrases over and over, reading children’s books gives you the chance to mix up the words you use, which may help speed your child’s language development.
  • Although your child will not understand the meaning of the words or pictures, the more sensory and aural experiences she can have at this age, the better.

Reading to older babies

Once your child is a few months old, there is really no limit to the amount of benefit your child can get out of books. By reading to your child every day, you will teach her new concepts and introduce her to a variety of characters, animals, places, colors, and concepts that will be useful as she develops.Meanwhile, if your baby likes the books and you read them in a fun way, she will quickly come to realize that books are fun. This may mark the beginning of a lifelong reading habit.

When we compare a two-year-old child who has been read to daily to one who has little or no exposure to books, the difference can be startling. Although every child is different, those who have been exposed to a variety of books by age two have broader vocabularies, understand more of what is going on around them, and are closer to learning how to speak clearly, read, and use numbers. All of this helps prepare them for their education, and it puts them on a strong footing socially.

Tips for reading to babies

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your child gets the most out of books.

  • Read yourself. It is important to create a reader-friendly atmosphere in your home, which means turning off the TV and delving into some grownup books when you have the time (which may be scarce in your child’s first year). When your child sees you frequently reading your own books, it can have a major impact.
  • Build a collection. It is no secret that not every children’s book is worth owning, but there are undoubtedly enough quality kid-oriented books to keep you busy for a long time. In the end, your child may develop a few favorites that he or she goes back to again and again, but it cannot hurt to have a varied collection for her to explore when she starts looking at books on her own.
  • Expect short sessions. Young children naturally have short attention spans. There is nothing wrong with this. If your child begins to lose interest in a book just a couple minutes after you start reading, do not take it personally, and do not feel that you have to finish the book. His mind has simply moved on to something else, and that is okay.
  • Make it fun. Reading in a flat, deadpan voice is easy, but it is not going to hold your child’s interest. Work on making the reading more interesting. Do voices, use varied inflections, and read in a slow, sing-song voice. It may feel awkward at first, but you will get used to it.
  • Read daily. Try to read to the baby for several minutes at a time at least twice a day. The evening before bedtime is the perfect time for a longer session of 10 to 20 minutes. By the end, your child will likely be dozing off.

Jamell Andrews, a graduate from CSU Fullerton, majored in Language Arts and authors numerous articles on parenting for the popular journal site http://www.Parenting-Journals.com. She also believes in the many uses of baby gripe-water for gas in babies.

Article source: EzineArticles.com

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