Older Babies: I Think This Might Mean Something
During the second half of the first year, children can focus more on books, partly because they are able to sit up. “It’s easier for me to read when I’m sitting or standing rather than lying down, too,” says Dr. Barbour, who is one of two content advisors for “A Place of Our Own,” a public television series on KCET in Los Angeles that promotes early literacy.
As they move toward age one, children start to understand that “pictures represent things in their environment,” that a picture of a ball symbolizes a real ball, Dr. Barbour says. Later, kids apply this connection to other symbols, such as numbers and letters.
Tapping into this new understanding of symbols, Drs. Herb and Willoughby-Herb suggest that a parent “point to and label something on each page” in a basic book. After a number of times reading the same book, the parent can “encourage baby to point to a particular item,” especially something she likes.
As children approach one year they “are starting to recognize that books really say something,” Dr. Barbour says—that words tell a story and convey meaning. Dr. Stevens calls this “print awareness” and sees it as a crucial basis for later formal reading instruction.