There’s no need to feel nervous about reading books to your baby, toddler or child. It’s not a lesson or a duty. Instead, try to see books as a bonding time to share rather than teaching your baby or child to read. They will learn just by sharing books and loving books.
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 babies, and toddling babies dragging picture books to them. Part of the reason why babies love books is that when their mummy or daddy share 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 e.g. text or call a friend at the same time.
Reading has to be something that starts really early on because it’s really beautiful to share a book with a baby. It really 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 is easy and fun to read. There are lots of lovely baby books with no words at all that allow you to have a conversation with your baby about all the lovely colours and things in the book.
It’s just such a beautiful shared experience and should be happening on a daily basis.
There are loads of lovely 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. It is really lovely to have, or to borrow a nursery rhyme book from the library. You may find that your baby looks at your face and your mouth really intently when you sing or tell her nursery rhyme as the rhythm and the rhymes really help to develop her 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. You may also find your local library runs some groups where you can listen to books together or sing nursery rhymes and songs and maybe make some new friends.
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 instill a love of words and books in your baby. The love of books is a priceless gift you can give to your baby. Books and reading then become very much a part of your baby’s life so that then when they come to learning literacy it’s just much easier because the love of 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 develop a love rather than a fear of books and find literacy much easier when they get to school.