Reading to Your Baby – Why Should You?
I have always read aloud to my son. No one told me to, I just did it. I love books and reading, and it was just something I wanted to share from him from when he entered the world. He is now an avid reader and sometimes when he is lost in a book and I need him to so something else I curse that I ever introduced him to reading. But mostly I am pleased that he loves reading so much.
Since I started this site and have been researching various topics on reading I have read so many statements saying reading to your baby is beneficial. Having an inquiring mind I decided to find out why, and if my early reading may have had a big impact on my son’s reading habits (or is it just that there are limits on screen time in our house but not on reading time).
So I set out and read a few articles (the most comprehensive I found are below) and surprise! surprise! I found that reading with babies is good for their development. It is not just the fact that they love being held and hearing the sound of your voice but also that by the time a child is one they will have heard most of the sounds they will need to make up their primary language and reading helps with this development. Reading to babies also teaches them:
- about communication
- numbers, letters, colours and shapes
- listening and memory skills
- about the world around them
- about emotions
Your spending time reading to your child also demonstrates to them that reading is of value. Ensuring they have access to a range of reading material also helps with their reading development, whether they are books in the home or from the library.
So what do you read to your child? Experts say:
- 4-6 months a baby does not understand pictures, but would like books with patterns, bright colours, faces, mirrors
- 6-12 months begin to understand that pictures represents objects. Single pictures with words like kitten, dog, milk etc are good.
- 12 months + simple sentences can be understood, and you can ask questions like where is the kitten?
I am so pleased that I got something right without having to be told to, but I am a bit dismayed to find that it is now a ‘thing to do’ for all new parents as being essential to their child’s development. When this happens people tend to over-think and wonder if they are doing it ‘right’, and this could take some of the joy out of reading with your baby. Really you could read a magazine to your baby, or the book you are currently reading as you will not get time to read yourself if you don’t, and that would be fine. Or you can tell stories. My husband use to make up stories for our son as he did not really feel comfortable reading out loud. Also, I am sure there are approved reading lists, but I used to just hold a book out and flick through a few pages, if my son reached for it that was the book we borrowed or bought. And sometimes I just chose a book because I liked it – I still do that.
I still occasionally read to my son, books or pieces of books I want to share. What is really nice is he now shares bits of his books with me. I hope we continue to do this as we both grow older. We both enjoy the interaction and he has suggested some good books for me to read for this blog. I have to say that although reading with him is likely to have helped his reading development, it is more important to me because we now have a love of books to share.
Image from : http://www.clker.com/clipart-baby-read.html