It’s never too early to start reading to your baby, they may not understand the words at first, but they will love the sound of your voice nonetheless!
In fact, being read to from an early age provides an amazing basis for the development of communication, relationships and language. Throughout their first year, infants are learning and absorbing all the sounds they will need to speak in their native language – the more they hear, the better their speech and language development will be.
Reading together provides an opportunity to expose your child to a wide variety of expressive sounds which encourages listening and memory skills and introduces them to a wide vocabulary. In fact, children whose families talk and read to them, develop language and eventually reading skills faster than those who have not experienced this sort of enrichment.
But the most important reason to read to your baby is bonding. Reading together creates a dedicated ‘special time’ and builds closeness. Try not to feel self-conscious if reading aloud is out of your comfort zone, your baby won’t judge, they will just love the sound of your voice.
As your child grows try and keep this special storytelling time going – even independent readers and older children still love to listen to stories. The Book Trust offers this series of yips for reading with children of any age:
- Set aside some time
Find somewhere quiet without any distractions – turn off the TV/radio/computer.
- Ask your child to choose a book
Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.
- Sit close together
Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
- Point to the pictures
If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
- Encourage your child to talk about the book
Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
- Lastly, above all – make it fun!
It doesn’t matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don’t be afraid to use funny voices – children love this!
Don’t forget, your Health Visitor should give you a Bookstart Baby Pack by the time your baby turns 1, and a Bookstart Treasure Pack before your child is 5. If you haven’t received one please ask at your local library.
For more information visit: www.booktrust.org.uk
Kerry Bennett – Project Administrator @ Best Start Communities Count Too