If you’re currently expecting, you perfectly understand how everyone is telling you about the importance of reading to your child (among other 99 million things that you really must know!). Try to see that it’s coming from a place of love and, truth be told, the benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development is very well known and proven. Luckily for you, raising a reader isn’t difficult, and it’s quite easy to do it.
What are the things to keep in mind?
You would think that raising your child as a reader is easy peasy, but you may want to give it a second thought. Following some tips is going to help you get results later in life:
The very first thing to do is to start as early as you can. Make time, space and will for reading books not only for your child, but also for yourself. You cannot raise a reader unless you are a reader.
On the side note, it’s never too early to start to read to your baby. At the same time, you’re not going to stop the second he’s vertical. Even your newborn may benefit from hearing nice stories (he won’t complain about your choices either).
Read out loud, every single day
In the case of a newborn, you may practically read anything: a dystopian novel, your favorite cookbook or a parenting manual. It’s not about the content at this age, but about the sound of your voice and the rhythm of the words. Research has revealed that the number of words a newborn is exposed to has a big influence on his language development and literacy later on. The main thing to keep in mind is that the voice must be live, in person and addressing directly to the child. It’s useless to turn on the television or to play an audiobook- it’s not the same as a live human voice.
Obviously enough, it makes sense that you would read to your newborn the books that are going to be part of his library. Get creative and try to make it fun for you too.
Pay attention to his reactions
It’s important to check your baby’s reactions from time to time. You should make eye contact, without expecting any amazing reaction. Even if your baby looks like he’s not listening, he’s actually taking in the whole reading experience. Good routines, patterns and attentive skills are going to develop at this age, lasting for the entire life.
Use your senses as well
A baby that is read to is going to learn from an early age that reading is fun and it may include all the senses: the smell of the glue (only some of it, though), the feel of the pages, the sound of your voice, the visuals of the illustrations. Look for the texturized books as they’re amazing for your baby’s tactile experience.
Encourage your baby to talk
It’s really possible for a baby to try making sounds as a response to your reading. That’s the main reason for which the books for this age may include a lot of animal sounds and nonsense words- trust us when we say that they’re pretty easy to mimic.
When your baby is making a noise, make sure you react to it. It doesn’t have to be meaningful; it’s still some sort of communication.
So your baby is a toddler now! What’s next?
It’s beyond the doubt that reading to your toddler is going to have a positive effect on his intellectual, social and emotional development. When you’re reading to your toddler, he’s going to take the best out of it: the number and math concepts, colors, shapes, vocabulary, opposites, manners, animals and any other type of information that is teaching him about the world. When you’re reading out loud to your toddler, he is going to link the books with the beloved and familiar sound of your voice, but also with the physical closeness that reading is involving. You’re going to create a positive association with a book that isn’t going to vanish any time soon.
Let’s see what you need to remember when reading to your toddler:
Read any time of the day
We all know about the bedtime reading routine, and we don’t want to undermine it in any way. You need to create a soothing and calming feel, selecting the books that are going to end with a going-to-bed scene (or you can try to bring a little fun and read a book about the sleep-avoiding children).
Having said that, we cannot stress enough about the importance of reading to your toddler any time of the day. Reading may be the only solution at times to calm him down and help focus. Sit next to him and enjoy the whole experience.
Acknowledge his preferences
You may be surprised that your toddler already has some opinions and preferences when it comes to books. It’s not only broccoli that he may not like, but also a black-and-white book too. Even if you don’t necessarily fancy the books about the talking trucks, your toddler may absolutely love them. A great way to make them fall in love with reading for eternity is to order and purchase a personalized book. Chances are your toddler is going to enjoy a book about himself being the dragon-slayer or anything else. The options are plenty, and you should also look for the coupon discounts to get the better deals.
Such example is Mumablue.com, which is one of the best companies when it comes to storybooks for kids. They have books for kids at every reading level, and all the books are personalized and printed exclusively for you.
Let him know about what you like too
Now that you’ve been reading for quite some time, you may have your very own preferences in terms of grown-up books. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rediscover the joy of reading a children’s book. Go through your classical favorites and look for the new books that draw your attention. This may come as a shocker, but best authors and illustrators of children’s books are actually interested in creating books that grown-ups are going to enjoy as well.
It’s a continuous play
The more you’re both enjoying the reading, the more your toddler is going to associate reading with nice feelings and reward. Stop using your dragon voice if your toddler doesn’t go for it. After all, it’s about him feeling better through the whole experience. Give your kid some control and let him turn the pages, to set up a rhythm that he likes.
Expand your toddler’s world
Even if you don’t like some words in a book, don’t give up on the book, especially if it’s one of your kid’s favorites. Don’t be afraid to try books that some may think they’re not ready for just yet. History of art, life in various cultures and even geology may be explained and made interesting by a very good book.
In addition, if your child is a member of a racial/ethnic minority, you should look for the books that present children similarly looking to him. All children need to learn about diversity and tolerance from an early age.
One last thing to keep in mind before you go
The rule of thumb is that both your child and you should have a lovely time while reading. It’s ok for your child to interrupt any now and then or to make any comments and ask questions. As a matter of fact, that is only showing that your child is really listening to you. Try not to say “Let me finish this page”; it’s better that you take a time out and have a talk with your toddler. If your child doesn’t necessarily pay attention to the words, use the pictures for a better understanding. Invite him in the story and always encourage him to narrate the action, the way he sees it.