The goal is to show your baby reading can be fun!
Good Night Moon, Brown Bear Brown Bear, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Chica Chica Boom Boom, Rainbow Fish, Llama Llama Red Pajamas. I’m sure we can all name a book that brings back warm fuzzy feelings!
Reading is so important for a child and the key is to start the habit at a young age! Reading teaches a baby about communication, introduces early concepts, and builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills.
Your Age Based Guide To Reading
Reading for this age group is all about visual stimulation and bonding! At this age, your baby’s vision is still developing, so choose books with few words, or better yet, just make up your own! While your baby grows, the brain receives input from the senses. In babies, the retina is not as developed and requires more contrasting images in order to receive stimulation. This input causes nerve cells in the brain to multiply and form connections with other nerve cells in your baby’s brain! Reading literally helps your baby's brain to grow! Reading will also increase your baby’s social/emotional development. When you read, snuggle up with your baby and watch them positively respond to the upbeat tone in your voice.
3 months-6 months
When baby starts reaching, choose books that are more interactive, such as books with puppets, flip tabs, touch and feel, or mirrors. Don’t limit yourself to just reading the words from the page. The more ways the two of you can enjoy a book the better! Talk about the picture, make the animal noises, point to body parts, etc. Reading comprehension isn’t the goal at this point, at this age, reading is about responding to your tone and inflection in your voice, early visual stimulation, early exposure to receptive vocabulary, and cuddling up to you. In the later months, your baby will also start picking up on some early receptive identification of objects!
6 months-1 year
At this age your baby will begin to understand that images correspond to a word and your baby will now really start to pick up on the words read to them! Don’t focus so heavily on reading the book word for word, rather spend most of your time making the book fun, interactive, and pointing out and identifying common objects from your baby’s everyday life. Continue to choose books with simple pictures. Pointing out the picture while you’re naming the object begins to build those receptive label connections and expand your baby’s receptive vocabulary. Hearing you name something using a word your baby recognizes, reinforces their attending to the book as well as their registering it to their receptive vocabulary.
You can now begin to introduce books with longer sentences and more complex pictures. Continue to make reading something that is exciting and interactive! Imitate how a character may be feeling or make the noise of an animal. At this age, you can start to invite your child to participate in the story. For example, give your child the opportunity to imitate the basic sounds or faces that you make. You can also begin to ask your child questions while reading. For example, “Where’s the dog?” or “What does the dog say?” You can also ask your child to point to real life examples of what they’re seeing in the book to expand their receptive understanding of what an object is (for example, a nose is not just the picture in the book, but also the nose on their face, your face, your dog’s face, etc.). When your child is closer to 2 and they have an established expressive vocabulary that isn’t just imitating you, you can begin to ask them basic, “What’s that” questions and have them expressively label what they are seeing in the book.
Continue with books with longer sentences and a story line. Rereading the same book again and again allows your child to begin to understand that story line which is the first stages of reading comprehension. Around this age you can also begin incorporating when, where and why questions rather than just “what” questions. Your child can practice answering questions that require them to use prepositions as well as require them to begin to understand the concept of time. For example, “Where is the puppy?” Rather than just pointing, encourage your child to use their words! Pro tip: If your child just wants to point and say, “right there,” close your eyes and act silly! Tell them, “Oh no! I can’t see the puppy! Tell me where he is!” You can also practice the early understanding of time by asking simple questions like, “When did mommy kiss him?” You obviously don’t expect your child to answer with the time, rather help them recognize an event like bedtime or nighttime! Keep in mind that answering wh- questions typically develops in this order: what, where, when, and why!
But What if my Child Won’t Sit Still to Read!
Read everyday! I always encourage parents to incorporate reading as a step in the bedtime routine. It’s a natural place to make sure you’re getting in at least one book per day. Read aloud for a few minutes at a time, and do it often! Don't worry about finishing an entire book, or changing up books. Rather, focus on pages or a picture that you know your baby enjoys. You may start out by reading the cover. That’s ok! After your child sits to look at the cover for a few days, add the cover and the next page! When you read, read with expression! Make the story entertaining for you child! Don't worry about following the text exactly, stop and point out pictures, make funny sounds, and ask questions. Make the story more engaging by including singing, funny noises or sounds, or bouncing your baby on your knee while you read. Show your baby reading can be fun!