Decades of research show that fostering an early appreciation for reading contributes to a child’s educational success. Eager to provide any possible brain-boosting advantage to their children, many parents wonder when to start reading with them. It is never too early to begin reading with your children, or even to your unborn baby! At first, it matters less what words are in books than how they are read aloud: happy, animated tones of voice, exaggerated expressions and personalized stories are all engage a child’s interest in books long before the language is comprehended.
Raising an active reader requires making more time for reading. While children may do some reading in preschool, they are more likely to associate reading with enjoyment if they spend time doing it with those they admire most: their parents. Robert Needlman, M.D., author of “Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics”, suggests reading to children at a very early age to nurture a life-long appreciation of reading. He advises: “There’s no prescription for this, the only prescription is to allow some time each day that you can sit down, connect with your child, and read together. The main thing is to allow it to occur in a way that’s joyful, that conveys enjoyment to the child — from enjoyment the rest will follow.”
To get the most out of the special reading time you spend with your child, make sure to select books both of you can enjoy. Books with colorful, intriguing illustrations and simple, rhyming or rhythmic language are good choices for young children. When making your selection, be sure to pick out stories that appeal to you, too. Not only will you be a more entertaining reader, but if you like the book yourself, you won’t tire of it as quickly. Children love to hear the same story over and over again, so make sure you can imagine yourself reading something repeatedly before you buy it.
Here are some tips to create a fun, engaging environment that will build a book-loving foundation in your family:
Start early! Read during infancy, and as the baby ages, encourage active participation in the story.
Give your children access to a wide variety of age-appropriate books to peruse.
Keep a supply of favored books in the car to ease long trips and “waiting” periods.
Talk to your child’s teacher about books relating to what is happening at school, and buy or borrow them from a library to read with your child at home.
When children grow old enough to “read” their favorite books aloud, they will often tell a different story to accompany the illustrations. Encourage this behavior; it demonstrates a major milestone in literacy development as the child begins to understand the purpose of books in communicating stories.
From the moment of birth, children are on a quest to learn how to communicate and make their feelings and needs known. Parents support their language-learning efforts with talking and singing, but reading books is an equally vital tool to encourage language development. Reading helps children understand how stories and written language work. It takes an environment full of love and support to allow a bookworm to bloom, so don’t wait! Get a book and introduce your child to the wonders of reading today.