Children's books expert Wendy Cooling offers guidance on why you should read to your baby, along with some top tips.
It really is never too early to read to your baby. There’s a growing belief that reading to the baby in the womb helps development of a calm personality and a sense of rhythm.
Why do it?
• Most brain development happens in the first three years of life.
• Babies need stimulation as much as they need food, so sing, talk, tell stories, chant rhymes – and READ!
• Babies need language, and authors are so good at using it – vocabulary grows through reading.
• It’s about communication too – one of the earliest things a baby responds to is the sound of the voice of someone who loves them and is a big part of their world.
• Sharing books regularly helps adult and baby to bond.
• Listening and concentration are big skills; babies grow through book sharing.
• Children who know how books work, who are used to listening to stories and rhymes and who see books as a normal part of life are more likely to have a good start at school.
Reading together and getting into the habit
• Settle down in a comfortable place every day.
• Go for two books – you choose one and your child chooses one.
• Be happy to read favourite books endlessly! This gives security as well as pleasure.
• Encourage joining in – rhyming words at the end of lines, turning the pages, lifting the flaps, etc.
• Point to and talk about the pictures; children soon learn that the words and pictures work together to tell the story.
• Remember, reading together is not quiet time – be ready to use funny voices, make animal sound as the book requires, and to laugh and talk a lot.