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Reading Books to Your Newborn
Reading books to your newborn baby is a very important step to their reading development. Not only that, the closeness of snuggling up with a good book is integral to your child's development.
Why read to your newborn baby? Clearly they don't understand what you're doing, right? Wrong. When you stimulate the senses by reading, you're introducing your baby to a whole new activity that he or she will continue all of their lives.
Reading to your newborn:
- Introduces them to language
- Introduces them to number, letter, shape, color, front to back, and beginning to end, concepts
- Creates new pathways in the brain that build listening and vocabulary
- Gives your newborn closeness to you
- Your voice sooths your baby
- Introduces your baby to emotions when you use different sounds for characters and what they're doing
- Fosters emotional development
- Makes a connection between the most important thing in your baby's life - you - and books
- Introduces cognitive recognition
- Introduces picture recognition
As your child grows, you will see the different stages in beginning reading blossom. From 0-3 months, your child will not only revel in the closeness and sound of your voice, but will start focusing his or her eyes on simple patterns on the pages. At this age, your baby's attention span is less than five minutes, so many short readings in a day are recommended.
At six months of age, your baby will start to recognize pictures and understand that they represent things. Certain pages and pictures will become your child's favorite. You'll notice your baby interacting with the pictures and cooing as you read.
By twelve months, your baby may want to turn pages, want to hold the book, and will even try to mimic you telling the story. At this stage, your child will start recognizing animals, and making their sounds when you point to them on a page.
Studies show that children who have been read to as babies grasp speaking early and read themselves long before kindergarten. Not only that, they have higher grades and test scores than children who weren't read to. Concepts in math come easier to a child who was read to all of his or her life.
Don't panic, if you haven't been reading to your child, it's never too late to start. Beginning at birth is best, but incorporating reading into your schedule at any age has been shown to improve problem solving, focus, and reading skills.
How do you read to your child? It's easy to bring reading into your child's life. Don't worry about finishing entire stories, or even pages. Babies have short attention spans, so reading for a few minutes at a time is a great start. Reading time will grow with your child. Focus on books or pages that your baby responds to the best. Incorporating a reading time at nap times and bed time is a great time. It gives you a few minutes to slow down and snuggle with your baby, and it calms baby down and makes it easier to relax and go to sleep.
Keep books in your diaper bag for times when you're forced to wait for something, like a doctor's appointment. Use expression and different character voices when you read to your little one. Encourage your baby to interact by asking where things are on the pages. Keep books accessible to your child as they grow, the same way you would keep toys in a place where they can grab them.