Reading with Baby

Reading with young children is one of the most wonderful long-term gifts we can give them.  However, many parents express frustration that a baby or young toddler’s attention span is too short to sit still and read.  Sometimes the trick is simply understanding some of the often overlooked pre-literacy behaviors of babies.  Here are a few tips to make reading together even more meaningful:

  • Remember that mouthing books, turning pages, and switching between books in a stack are actually ways your child is participating in the reading experience.
  • Follow your child’s interest as he glances, points, babbles, turns pages, or switches books.  Doing so gives your child control of the reading session, allows him to participate more fully, and allows you many opportunities to engage him in “conversation” about what in the story interests him.
  • Allow your child to hold a prop while you read (e.g. a stuffed bear for a bear book, a car for a book about transportation).
  • Don’t worry about reading the text word-for-word. Talk about pictures.  Describe what you see.  Look for characters or objects that appear throughout the book.  Many books have animals or objects hiding in a new place on each page.
  • Read books with familiar nursery rhymes and do any accompanying hand motions or activities you know.  (Rhymes like “This Little Piggie” or the new book for our Village families Hickory, Dickory, Tickle & Bounce are perfect.)
  • One important pre-literacy experience is that of hearing a story told aloud. Consider making up stories for you child to go along with a puzzle, stacking blocks, or other playthings.

When you incorporate even some of these strategies, you will soon find yourself on the way to wonderfully rich reading interactions!

p.s.  If you’re interested, here is are two interesting links with several articles related to early literacy that I found very useful:

From Zero to Three

On Reading Books to Babies

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