Momma, have you ever wondered if reading to your four month old baby is worth it?
Many nights I’ve sat in the rocking chair reading to my baby as she stared up at me. At four months old my daughter’s control of her arms and legs had barely developed, let alone her ability to follow along in a book with me. BUT…..
Momma, let me tell you:
Read to your baby, every day, at every age. A big book, a small book, a stiff book or a soft book. Research shows that children who are exposed to books from infancy and upward can have a larger vocabulary, demonstrate stronger pre-literacy skills, and develop language faster than children who are not exposed to books. There is also research suggesting future success can be impacted by early literacy skills. Reading is a primary way in which a child hears new words and adds them to her vocabulary. When your child hears you reading not only is it educational, but it also helps to nurture the bond with your child.
Here are a few tips when reading to your child at home:
- Use facial expression when reading to your baby – this helps your baby begin to understand emotion, expressions, and connect with you, her momma!
- You don’t have to read every word on the page (I know, mind blown). Depending on your child’s age, you can ask them questions about what they see or how they expect the story to develop.
- Speak dynamically to provide emphasis or suspense where it is due. This helps a child understand the non-verbal aspects of language.
- Have your child help turn the pages to keep interest.
- Repetition of books is OK! In fact, babies and toddlers thrive in routine. Each time you read the same book, try to focus on a new aspect (a different animal, sound, color, etc).
Choose books that…
- Allow for additional sensory input (fabric on images, flaps you can open, shiny pages).
- Have bright colors and pictures.
- Have rhyming patterns or lyrical text (especially for infants and toddlers).
- Concern familiar items (animals, school routines, family, etc) or model a new social behavior (sharing, cleaning up, potty training, etc)
Don’t own any books? Don’t worry! Go to your local library, and sign up for a library card (this is free!). You can check new books each week at no cost to you. This could be a fun trip for you and your child as well!
Below are a few articles I found interesting regarding reading and literacy. Check them out if you have a chance.
Michelle I. Brown, Marleen F. Westerveld, David Trembath & Gail T. Gillon (2018)Promoting language and social communication development in babies through an early storybook reading intervention, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20:3, 337-349, DOI: 10.1080/17549507.2017.1406988
Laurie Makin (2006) Literacy 8–12 months: what are babies learning?, Early Years,26:3, 267-277, DOI: 10.1080/09575140600898449
Judith Elkin (2014) Babies Need Books in the Critical Early Years of Life, New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, 20:1, 40-63, DOI: 10.1080/13614541.2014.863666