How I Taught My Daughter to Love Reading
Learning to Read Begins at Birth
I literally started teaching my daughter to read at birth. Along with all the disposable diapers and the baby's formula when we came home from the hospital was a book to read to our baby. The book was BINGO and was about the song that I learned when I was in elementary school. You might be surprised though that it wasn't my daughter's first book, however. Along with the usual paraphernalia one buys when a baby is born, I already had bought her a number of simple picture books with simple words. Some had animated pictures and some were real pictures of real things. I wanted my daughter to know that she could explore the world around her through books and I wanted it to be as much fun as playing with toys.
The Best Time Help My Baby Learn to Read
When my daughter was a baby, I wanted to make sure that I read to her when reading would be a pleasant experience. I learned that there are four stages of alertness in my baby and that only one stage was the right stage to read to my infant. I didn't read to her when she was sleeping (sleeping stage), crying (crying stage), or even when she was wide awake and moving around (alert active stage). The only time that I would read to my daughter was when she was quiet and alert.
When she was first born and I read to her, I have to admit that I felt silly reading to her. I knew she didn't understand, but I also knew that reading to her was a bonding experience for her, not only toward me, but also it bonded her to the concept that books. She quickly learned that those marks on the page represented the world around her.
Allowing Time for Exploring
I knew that in her first year of life, she would be learning at an incredible rate, so I wanted to make sure that she was immersed in learning. As she grew older, she spent more time on the floor in what I call floor time. During floor time she studied her own body and how it worked. She learned how to interact with her physical environment. She learned that when she grabbed a rattle and shook it, it made a noise. She learned that if she grabbed the kitten's tail, it would scratch her. (I learned that when my daughter was doing floor time, the kitten needed to go outside.)
The quiet alert time grew into intimate times of bonding between my daughter, the books, and me. We would cuddle up into the easy chair, she would sit on my lap. As she would suck her thumb and play with my hair, I would animatedly read to her. She learned early that books were not part of the physicality of floor time. Books were special. Books weren't to be torn and explored in that way. Books were for reading and exploring in a different way. She learned to love reading time almost as much as I did.
Learn to Read to Your Baby
Learn Read and Grow with Books
My daughter's floor time expanded as she learned to crawl and then subsequently to walk. Her exploring lead to the need for added safety measures. As my daughter grew, her love for books grew with her. Through books, she learned her numbers, her letters, and her colors. Books were her special quiet time with Mommy.
We didn't read just at bedtime in order to quiet her from a long busy day. Reading was something we enjoyed several times during the day. Sometimes I would initiate the reading times, but other times, she would be the one to grab a book and nudge me and say "read to me, Mommy!"
Excited to See Her Learn to Read on Her Own
My daughter learned to read before she started kindergarten. My husband thought she just learned to read naturally. Maybe in a sense she did, but to tell you the truth, I taught her. It wasn't in a structured way like they teach children in school, it was the more relaxed, more nurturing way of a loving parent. My daughter didn't know it, but every time I sat down with her to read, my goal was to teach her something that would lead her to eventually read on her own. She didn't know it because I knew that even more important than teaching her whatever it was that I was teaching her that day, was for her to know that my time reading to her was as special to me as it was with her.
As my daughter grew as a reader, our time for sitting and reading together did not end as she moved beyond the simple reading books toward more advanced reading. When my daughter was almost a teenager, once in a while, she will still come to me and say, "read to me, mommy".
Read to me Grandma!
Learning to read is something that I believe most children can learn from their parents if the parents or other caregivers allot time to show children the magical world of books. With a systematic or self-designed program, and exposure to books children enjoy, most children could probably learn to read before they start school.
My daughter is now in college and I hope that one day I will be able to share in that magical time in her daughter's life. Perhaps I will someday in the not-too-distant future, I will hear the words, "read to me, grandma!"
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2013 Cygnet Brown