GREENSBORO, N.C. — It is never too early to begin reading to your child! The more we read with young children, the more likely they are to enjoy reading and do well in school.
80% of brain growth happens before age 3, so these early years are critical times in a child’s learning and development. To help with this, there are 5 simple things parents and caregivers can do to help stimulate growth – these are known as the Basics.
One of the Basics is to Read and Discuss Stories. Reading every night creates a routine for your baby. While they won’t understand the book for a while, what is important is that they hear your words, see the pictures and start to develop positive feelings about books. Interacting and spending uninterrupted quality time with your child while reading is just important as reading itself. Cuddling with your child while you read also makes your baby feel safe, warm, and connected with you (another basic: Maximize love, manage stress)
Find interactive books to read to your infant. Tactile books with flaps, mirrors, textures, and sounds help keep babies engaged. Children can explore the book with their fingers and eyes. When your child begins saying their first words, incorporate “see and say” books. Pointing out pictures and identifying them to your child will help build their vocabulary. Don’t get too caught up in reading the story all the way through, finishing a page, or even turning the pages the right way. Instead, let your child investigate the book and cultivate a positive relationship with reading!
It really doesn’t matter what you are reading, babies just love to hear the parent’s voice. In fact, you don’t even have to read the text on the pages. You can do a “picture walk” and simply talk about the pictures you see and or make up any story you want. Picture walks are great for folks with low literacy or English as a second language.
Repetition is key! Babies learn from hearing the same things over and over again. So, don’t be afraid of reading the same books all of the time. Incorporate reading into your child’s bedtime routine. Reading before bed gives your baby a chance to calm down and connect with you. Try not to force reading time on your baby. When your child gets antsy, take that as a sign to be done with reading. By allowing your child to choose when they want to stop, a positive relationship with reading is cultivated