Read to your child. Start early and do it often.
I know that sounds preachy. That’s because I’m shouting from the high pulpit! The research has been done and the evidence is clear. Reading to kids helps with their development in many, many ways. Any teacher will tell you that the children who enter school with regular exposure to literacy have a significant advantage over those who don’t.
On top of all that, reading to your child is fun! I have been reading to Hannah since shortly after she was born and some of my most enjoyable memories come from lying on the mat next her with a good book. Hannah is now eight months old, and when I pull a book down from her shelf her eyes light up. She reaches out to grab the book so that she can hold it and take in the front cover and, almost always, she makes loud excited sounds. Often, as I turn the pages, Hannah decides that she will read first. She takes the book in both hands and enthusiastically makes her entire range of sounds as her eyes flick excitedly from one part of the picture to another. When I’m reading (especially if it is a book with animal sounds or funny voices), her head rapidly turns from the book to me and back to the book. Reading together often elicits squeals of delight. We don’t read together every day, but we do it more often than not.
Reading is not a scheduled part of our routine, although we do try to sneak a book in before we begin the bath-time rituals. There are many, many times when we lie down to read a book and Hannah decides she’d much rather play with a toy. That’s okay, the book can wait. There are also many times when we get half way through a book (or even only a couple of pages) before Hannah rolls away in pursuit of the closest power point (seriously, she loves power points). That’s okay too, she doesn’t need to finish every book she starts. My point is, don’t let reading become a chore for you and your child. We read together often, but in a way that is fun, relaxing and engaging for both of us.
If you are a parent who is interested in reading to your baby but you don’t know how to get started, there are some good tips in the Age-by-age Guide to Reading to Your Baby over at parents.com. The main thing to understand is that anything you do in the early years to expose kids to enjoyment through reading is better than doing nothing.
Not sure what books to read? The following is a list of some favourites that sit on Hannah’s bookshelf. Stay tuned for the more in-depth reviews.
Top 6 Books for Babies (0-1)
The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
Who Sank the Boat – Pamela Allen
Diary of a Wombat – Jackie French
I Went Walking – Sue Williams
Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
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