The ABCs of Reading to Baby
Read with expression.
Just as adults quickly lose interest in a monotonous speaker, children won’t enjoy listening to a book read in a flat, dull voice. Engage your baby with the story by using a range of volume, dramatic pauses, and silly voices. Denice Grawe, a mom from Wilmington, Delaware, draws her young children into the reading experience by “asking about things going on in the pictures.” Even before your baby can understand everything you’re saying, she’ll be interested in what you point out and talk about.
Look for visually (and tactilely) stimulating books.
Babies, especially those aged nine months and younger, are attracted to books that aren’t too heavily illustrated. A page that is filled from one margin to the other with intricate details will be overwhelming until your child is a little older. Instead, opt for one or two illustrations per page, preferably in bright colors. Photographs are good, because babies often can’t decode more artistic renditions, such as watercolors. Also check out books that have touch-and-feel panels, though you’ll probably want to avoid pop-up books until your child understands how to be gentle.
Make read aloud time special.
Adults can set an example for children by establishing reading time as special or unique. Gather the readers together, turn off the television, and sit on a blanket that is reserved specially for read aloud time. Codell suggests lighting some candles or turning on a cozy lamp. Your baby will grow to associate these comfortable and intimate times with books, which will last far into her future.
Read aloud together every day.
No matter how busy your day gets or how many demands are made upon you and your family, commit to reading aloud together every single day. Studies have shown that this time is a substantial investment in your child. The results are immediate—when she grins and giggles at a silly story or colorful picture—as well as lifelong.
I keep several books in the car for those inevitable moments of waiting. Instead of grabbing candy bars off the checkout shelves, my 15-month-old daughter is delighted to “read” one of her favorite books.
And don’t worry if (at first) your little reader is more interested in turning the pages or chewing on the corner of the book than in studiously examining each page. The important thing is that you’re introducing him to the joys of reading.
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