The development of early literacy skills begins at birth. It is important to introduce babies to books and reading at an early age. “At this age,” writes Pamela Kramer in her article How to Introduce Baby to Books, “your baby is more likely to try to put a book in her mouth than turn its pages. But that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to make reading a part of your little one’s life.” Experts say exposing babies to books in the first year is crucial to their intellectual and emotional growth. In fact, research shows that reading to infants can help jump-start brain development and can even make them more receptive to learning.”
Reading together with your baby has academic, emotional, and social benefits. According to this article from Parents.com, the “bonding experience [of reading] is unbeatable… When you read to children, they’re getting your full attention and that’s just what they love.” The article also mentions other benefits of reading with your child, including the fact that reading “is also a great way to immerse [children] in the sounds and rhythms of speech, which is crucial for language development.”
So, what are some ways you can introduce your baby to books? One of the most important things to keep in mind is to let your child set the pace. If they seem to lose interest, it is time to stop. Do not force a young child to sit still for a book. It can cause negative feelings about reading, and we definitely do not want that to happen! It is okay to spend a few minutes at a time reading. It is not possible to expect a child to sit for any length of time and focus on one thing. Little bits of time throughout the day is best!
Another important thing to remember when introducing your child to books is that babies frequently explore things with their mouths. Therefore, board books are a good idea to have around because they are more durable and can usually handle being chewed on by babies! Furthermore, board books are generally easier for children to grasp and the pages are easier for them to turn.
Have fun with reading time! Feel free to be silly and to use funny voices and make exaggerated facial expressions. Your baby will benefit from this extra effort! They will come to anticipate reading as a fun and engaging experience. In regards to choosing a book to read to your baby, Scholastic suggests focusing on those that have “high-contrast images.” Scholastic also recommends books with black-and-white illustrations or patterns. As babies have limited attention spans, choose shorter books with little or no text. As your child gets older, the books can become longer and contain more words and more detailed illustrations.
The most important thing to remember when introducing your baby to books is to simply do it. Read as much as you can, whenever you can. Short periods of time reading together throughout baby’s day makes a huge difference!
For additional information and tips on introducing your baby to books and reading, check out this “Age-by-Age Guide to Reading to Your Baby.” This guide, developed by Parents.com, gives parents suggestions for reading with children from birth to 24 months of age. Book recommendations are also included to entertain both parents and children!