Bond with a book
Sharing books with your baby is about so much more than academic education. Reading is a lovely way to bond with your baby. Your baby won’t follow the story yet but he will love being held by you, hearing the sound of your voice and having all that attention.
Many parents will recognise the description of crawling or toddling babies dragging picture books to them. Part of the reason why babies love books is that when their mummy or daddy shares a book with them they have their undivided attention. When the television is on or you’re playing with other toys it is easier to tune out, multitask and, for example, text or call a friend at the same time.
When should I start reading to my baby?
Reading has to be something that starts really early on because it’s beautiful to share a book with a baby. It doesn’t matter if you have trouble reading yourself because that’s not what your baby cares about. At first he is not interested in the story but he loves hearing your voice. There are so many beautiful books that have that lovely rhythmic quality, which makes them easy and fun to read. There are lots of baby books with no words at all that allow you to have a conversation with your baby about all the colours and things in the book. It’s a beautiful shared experience and should be happening on a daily basis.
What books will my baby like?
There are loads of board books and books with flaps and waterproof books and cloth books and books that hook onto buggies. As well as books that are lovely to look at, babies have always and will always love timeless nursery rhymes – if you don’t have a nursery book of your own, you can borrow one from the library. You may find that your baby looks at your face and your mouth really intently when you sing or tell him nursery rhymes as the rhythms really help to develop his language and listening skills. They help babies to hear new words within the stream of sounds that you make when you talk.
So it’s really important that there’s a lot of book sharing going on. Soon your baby will ‘talk to you’ about the book in his own way. He can start to turn pages and point at things and squeal at his favourite pictures!
Join your local library, that way your baby will get the chance to see lots of different books for free.
Developing a love of reading
Babies and children who have the opportunity to sit in their parent’s lap and share a book develop a love of reading. Even if you have problems reading and reading isn’t a pastime of yours you can really instil a love of words and books in your baby. Books and reading then become very much a part of your baby’s life so that then when he comes to learning literacy it’s much easier, because a familiarity with books has been established early on.
Studies of child literacy have reported that children who see books in their house, and during even short trips to the library, find literacy much easier when they get to school.
Lots of new parents are really nervous about reading books to their babies and children. They may see it as an educational duty or worry about when is the right age to start. It’s more fun to see books as something to share, not something you ‘read to your baby’.