Reading with Young Children
An Open Book
The importance of reading to children is frequently in the news. According to The National Commission on Reading, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” This seems logical to us, yet many parents are full of questions and uncertainties: When do I start? How do I do it? Will my child be a reader? Here we’ll answer these questions and more, so relax, trust your instincts, and follow these simple guidelines. You’ll be an expert in no time!
Reading with Infants
Before your baby is even born, you can begin her own library. Why not start by adding books to your baby shower “wish list”? Today’s picture books range from simple, colorful stories with little text to artistic, beautiful renditions with reading levels up to sixth grade or higher. Welcome them all and take time in those few quiet months before the baby arrives to read them yourself. If you like them, your child is much more likely to share your enthusiasm.
When reading to an infant, it won’t matter so much what you read as that he is hearing the sound of your voice. So Dads, go ahead and read Sports Illustrated to your “chip off the old block,” and he or she is sure to enjoy it! Try these tips as you read with babies ages six-weeks to three-months old.
- Start with short readings (as little as five minutes) when your child is settling down for a nap or when you are rocking her in your arms.
- Keep your voice calm; no need to be theatrical for children this age. Choose books like Mem Fox’s Time for Bed, a lullaby of a story, or excerpts from Hush, Little Ones by John Butler.
- Once you’re in a routine, try reading to your baby when he’s fussy. If you’ve already set the pattern to connect reading with a calm, warm, close time, sharing a story before he becomes over-stimulated can help him quiet down.
As your youngster becomes more active and gains strength, you can begin “engaged reading”—that is letting the baby sit on your lap upright when fully awake to look at the book and pictures while you read. Choose simple stories that can be read in a short time. Most 32-page simple picture books take only two or three minutes to read.
Reading with Older Babies
When reading with children between the ages of four months and one year, begin to talk with the baby about what you read and see in the pictures before you turn the pages. Remember that the world is all new to a baby!
Slow down and enjoy your child’s response to the book. If she gets restless, don’t force the reading to go on. Find a place to stop and change activities. You can always come back to books another time. Be patient and take pleasure in spending time with your child. From the very beginning, your aim should be:
- For the child to feel comfortable and secure when you read together.
- For the child to hear language and new words (he is building his vocabulary of understanding long before he speaks).
- For the child to begin to see print and reading as a part of life.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN