Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Reading to children, before they are even capable of reading themselves, has shown to promote healthy brain development. Children exposed to books from an early age are often more successful academically, and they are also able to better tap into creativity. We all want to provide the best for our children, and reading is a simple way to give them a head start.

Why read to my infant?

Your infant may not acknowledge you or the story while you read, but there are benefits nonetheless. A love for reading, and learning in general, helps your child acquire the skills they need to become great readers as they get older. Exposing your infant to books early on helps establish reading as an important part of your child’s day, and creates an intimate bond as the two of you spend valuable time together.

For younger infants, from birth to about six months old, brightly colored picture books with sharp contrasts will attract your baby the most.  Black and white images and shapes with hard lines are easier for your infant to see as well, and they will be fascinated with the new sensory experience. Once your infant is older than six months, you might notice a preference for certain books or pages, and your baby will start to form associations. Although repetition can be mind-numbing for the parents, reading the same books on a regular basis is exactly what your infant needs. Repeating the same patterns, phrases, and pictures will help your child develop their general understanding and vocabulary.

Have fun together!

The story may not be riveting to you, but reading to your infant can still be fun for you both. Make sure that you select books that are designed for your infant’s age, and definitely no paper pages! Cardboard books are easy for your infant to hold, and their bulk allows for your infant to grasp so they can explore on their own. As your infant gets older, reading together will become more interactive. Your baby will be able to answer questions and relate details from the book to their own life.

If you’re having difficulty keeping your infant’s attention, you might want to ask yourself how you sound when you are reading aloud. Would you want to listen to this story? Read your infant stories with intonation and expression: if you’re excited about the story, they will want to know what all the fuss is about. Reading stimulates the senses, so feel free to incorporate as many movements, sounds, and facial expressions as you can. Not only are you presenting reading as fun, but you are introducing cognitive concepts and providing new vocabulary.

It only takes a few minutes of reading together each day to make a difference. Reading is also a perfect bed-time activity, as a calming method of settling your child and cuddling together. Your child may not always want to sit in your lip during a story, especially once they are mobile, but it is likely that they are still listening. Reading together builds a relationship between you and your child from the very beginning, and before you know it, your child will be begging for just one more story.