By: Kara Pauley, Early Literacy Librarian
When is the right time to start reading to your baby? The answer is that it is never too early. According to expert pediatricians, the first three years of a child’s life are critical for language development (Abrams). But even more important is the shared connection you and your baby are forging as you read together. If you are wondering how to help your baby become a life-long reader, it starts with positive reading experiences.
To create a positive reading experience for your baby, one thing is necessary: you! Being held and hearing your voice while you read does more than simply help your baby “build a rich network for words” (Lewis). As you read together, you are creating a special moment and connection between you and your baby.
Another way to create a positive association with books is by letting your child chew on them. Yes, chew! Buy board books, soft books, and books with different textures to let your child explore books on their own in all kinds of ways–by chewing, feeling, and looking. Babies explore first with their mouths, so letting them have books they can chew is a great way to start them on their reading journey!
When looking for books to read to your baby, look for books with “simple, familiar, and repetitive text, and clear pictures” (Lewis). Sometimes popular picture books with more complex storylines for older children get republished as board books, but do your best to seek out books with simple text. What you want to create is a positive reading experience, not a full story just yet.
That being said, you can still choose simple books with rich language. It is beneficial for babies to hear not only a quantity of language, but also quality language (Egbert). This can be done through the books you read together, as well as by talking to your baby as you go about your day. As you expose your baby to new words, you are making language more accessible to them.
Beyond reading, there are even more ways you can help your baby on the path to reading, including: singing nursery rhymes, making animal sounds, moving their fingers, and more. If you’re not sure where to start, these are all activities we practice in Babytime at the library. This fall, we are pleased to announce that Babytimes are available at the Main Library, the Francis Branch Library, and the Centre Township Branch Library.
We hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, you can still create a great reading time at home. You are your child’s first teacher, and the library is here to help. We are excited to see where the world of books takes you and your child!
Kara Pauley is the Early Literacy Librarian at Main Library. Even more than reading, she loves to sing and play the ukulele at Storytime and Babytime. Her favorite books usually have off-beat humor and a lot of drama.
Abrams, Mary Ann, MD, MDH. “Early Literacy: Why Reading is Important to a Child’s Development.” Nationwide Children’s. March 2019.
Egbert, Lisalee D., PhD. “ASL: For Young Children, Both Quantity and Quality Matters.” American Society for Deaf Children. May 2019.
Lewis, Kandia N., Ph.D. “Reading Books to Babies.” Kids Health. August 2019.
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