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Why Should I Read to My Baby?
Research has proven that reading promotes brain development and imagination, develops language and emotions, and strengthens relationships. Not bad for that special snuggle time each day!
Look at all these benefits:
- Your child will get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills
- Reading stories will help your child learn the difference between ‘real’ and ‘make-believe’
- It will help to develop your child’s brain, their social and communication skills, and their ability to concentrate
- They will better understand new or frightening events, and the strong emotions that come with them
- Your child will learn about the world, about their own culture and about that of others
- They will learn to value books and stories.
Start reading to your baby as early as you like – the earlier the better! Your baby will love being held in your arms, listening to your voice, hearing rhyme and rhythm, and looking at the pictures. The special time you spend reading together deepens the bond between you and helps to build your relationship.
Storytelling and songs
If you feel inspired, making up stories, singing songs and saying rhymes together are also great activities to promote early literacy skills. It’s possible your child might even enjoy these activities more than reading!
When to read, sing and tell stories with your child
Any time is a good time for a story! Make books part of your daily routine – take them with you everywhere to share and enjoy.
Knowing when to stop can be just as important as finding the time to share a story in the first place. Pay attention to your child’s reaction to the story, and stop if your child isn’t enjoying it this time. You can always try a book, song or story another time.
Tips for sharing books
Make it a routine and try to share at least one book every day. Perhaps set up a reading nook with a comfortable chair or cushions.
Turn off the TV, put your phone or tablet away.
- Hold your child close or on your knee, so your child can see your face and the book.
- Try out funny noises and sounds – play and have fun!
- Involve your child by encouraging talk about the pictures, and by repeating familiar words and phrases.
- Let your toddler choose the books when they’re old enough to start asking – and be prepared to read your toddler’s favourite books over and over again!
If you have older children, they can share books with your younger children, or you can all read together. Taking turns, asking questions and listening to the answers are all important skills that will help children when they start learning how to read.
Just reading for a few minutes at a time is good – you don’t always have to finish the book. As children grow, they can usually listen for longer.
What sorts of books to read with your child
As a broad rule, young children often enjoy books, songs and stories that have good rhyme, rhythm and repetition. In fact, one of the ways that children learn is through repetition and rhyme.
Choose books that are the right length for your child and that match your child’s interests.
You can also vary the books and printed materials you read. Other than picture books and ebooks, magazines, instruction manuals, TV guides and letters can all be interesting and engaging for your child! Anything is fair game!
If you’re interested in ebooks, look for ones without distracting games or animations. And it’s important to enjoy ebooks with your child, rather than leaving your child alone with a device.
If you want to try new books or magazines without much cost, you could arrange book swaps with friends, or with other parents at your parent group or early childhood center. There’s always your local library too where you'll find other like-minded parents with their toddlers.