Books & Babies: How to Raise a Little Reader
Today's blog post was originally published by The Sunshine Mama.
While the first few years of baby- and toddler-hood seem to pass in the blink of a sleep-deprived eye, introducing reading time early is one of the best gifts you can give your little one.
Here are 10 tips on how to raise little readers.
- For babies ages 0-3 months, start with books with black-and-white contrast. Black-and-white books with simple, bold patterns are more stimulating to newborns than colorful, busy picture books in these first few months.
- Listen to classical music before reading together. Studies show that kids who listened to music before engaging in auditory exercises had much more brain stimulation. This is because listening to music is like doing warm-ups before an exercise for your brain. If you read after breakfast, play classical music during breakfast time.
- Create a routine. A routine is a great way to help babies anticipate activities and adjust themselves to this strange new world. The anticipation of “reading time” can help prevent fussiness or “the wiggles” because it’s a part of your child’s daily rhythm.
- Slip in reading a book that you enjoy too. At this age, your baby cannot understand what you are reading so the storyline is not as important. Occasionally, pick a book you love or have been wanting to read as a form of self-care in addition to contributing to the development of your baby.
- Be very expressive when you read. Use different voices for different characters, speak with emotion, make silly sounds and bring the book to life however you can. Your baby is learning the art of communication, such as what it means to speak in high and low tones, quick and short expressions, shrill and relaxed voices. Your tone and how you say it is just as important as what you say.
- If your baby is too wiggly and does not want to sit on your lap during reading time, try rocking them in a rocking chair or allow them to play while you read. It’s better to enjoy reading together while they’re playing then get frustrated or give up reading altogether.
- Writing and journaling is a great way to help process postpartum emotions and ground your thoughts. One idea is to read your journal out loud to your baby. This can bring another element of healing and gratitude for you to process. Because you are reading your own words it will be a very personal way to bond.
- Place books strategically. Always keep a book (or bookcase) next to your rocking chair or by the crib so it’s easier to remember to read during morning and evening routines.
- If your baby wants to rip apart your book or eat it as a snack, keep a teething toy handy alongside your book so they have something safe to chew and play with while you read to them. Look for baby books made of materials that are safe to chew and that will stand up to a little extra wear and tear. Waterproof books are perfect for enjoying even during bath time!
- Have a reading goal for yourself and your baby. The goal could be to read twice a day for five minutes or five baby books a day. It could be to finish one chapter book a month. Or to get through a list of books over the summer. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, as long as it helps encourage you to read together daily.
Bonding with your baby over a book is a priceless experience. I hope you enjoy these tips and have a wonderful time reading together with your precious baby.
What are your family reading goals? What helps you stay consistent with reading with your littles?
Esther Nobels, mother of two, writes The Sunshine Mama Blog - the everything blog for Orlando mamas.