Reading with your baby
Babies can have fun with books long before they know any words, and they’ll also be picking up skills they will need later when they begin learning to read. Even small babies love listening to the sound of your voice as you share books cuddled up together, and they soon come to associate reading with this positive feeling of warmth and security.
By looking at books, children become familiar with how books and stories work. As babies, they learn which way up to hold a book and how to turn the pages. Later on, they get to know that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, and often follow a predictable pattern. They also become familiar with storybook language, which is more formal than everyday speech. These are all vital skills that will help a child learn to read when the time comes.
Babies have a very short attention span, so it’s best to start with short sessions of just a few minutes at a time. As their concentration improves, you can gradually lengthen the time you spend reading together.
As you read, look at each page in turn and give your baby time to look at the pictures. Wait for them to coo or point at things that interest them, and respond when they do. Point to the pictures on the page, say the names of objects and describe what you can see. It’s good to ask lots of questions, such as ‘Where’s the cat? Can you see its tail?’, even though you’ll have to answer the questions yourself.
From about 12 months, try to set up regular reading times, maybe first thing in the morning, after lunch, before a nap or at bedtime. Bedtime stories often become an important part of a child’s routine and can be continued long after children are able to read for themselves.
Did you know?
Studies show that women tend to read to children more than men, but it’s very important – particularly for boys – that dads, or other male relatives, read to children as often as they can.
Information taken from: Usborne Parents' Guide: Help your child to read and write