Reading to your baby is one of the great pleasures of being a parent. Reading is one of the few activities that you can enjoy with your baby from the moment they arrive. It is a wonderful thing to do as a family until your child is old enough to read alone and even then a love of books is something that will tie you all together as a family for years to come.
Why Reading To Your Baby Is Important
From the moment your baby arrives, they are learning. They are taking in everything around them, using all five senses together for the first time and developing faster than they ever will again. Reading lets your baby hear your voice, which is itself a comfort. The different tones and sounds your voice makes teach your baby about how we use our voices to communicate different feelings. Of course getting into the habit of reading is a good idea, if books and reading are a big part of your baby’s life and the life of your family from the early days all through the formative years, it will be only natural that they take the habit through to later years.
What To Read
When your baby is very young, it really doesn’t matter so much what you read, so just read whatever you are reading yourself but aloud to your baby. Use lots of intonation and expression in your voice, there is lots of time for children’s stories later!
Picture books are brilliant for babies, and there are picture books for babies of all ages. Young babies are more stimulated by images in contrasting colours such as black and white. They will recognise faces so show them images in newspapers and magazines of smiling faces as well as picture books and watch their reactions. In time, your baby will show interest in other books. Look for books with bright pictures, different textures and engaging text. Board books can be given to babies to look at independently (or to chew) and the range is endless; there are new books all the time and something to suit every child and very family.
How To Read To Your Baby
Reading to your baby is all about putting meaning into your words. Your little one won’t understand every word you say, but you can read in a certain way that helps communicate meaning.
So, instead of reading,
“The little mouse ran away, through the woods and jumped over the big river”
“The little mouse (squeak squeak) ran away, throoooough the woods and JUMPED over the big river!
Remember that it isn’t your words that your baby is listening to, it is your voice, so change the speed of your voice so it is faster when the story is more exciting. Get louder and quieter depending on the action taking place and don’t be afraid to move away from the written word when reading from a book. You can add in voices for the characters, little ideas and thoughts you have about them or things that relate to your baby’s own experience. Make the story come alive, your baby will be mesmerised.