Love of the Written Word
When I was little, my mother used to read aloud to us. It was a daily bedtime routine, and I remember asking for one more story every time. She never refused. She continued to read to us long after we could read for ourselves. It was magical to just lie back, close my eyes and listen to the sound of her voice weave a spell as I drifted off to sleep.
This was my first introduction to the world of books. The next inspiration came from a well-stocked library at our school, where we were actively encouraged to borrow and read books. This early foundation set the tone for all future reading.
Now I am a Mum, and it is my turn to instil a love of the written word in my toddler.
Never Too Soon!
It is never too soon to start reading to your little one. Research has shown that an unborn baby can hear his mother's voice when in her womb. So you can start reading out loud even to your unborn child!
At this stage in the little one's life, it really does not matter what you read. All the baby needs is to hear his mother's voice, gentle, soothing and calming. He will know and recognise the sound of this warm, protective voice once he is born into this world. And he will bond with it, will bond with you, his Mum, the owner of that beautiful voice that has constantly been with him these last few months.
So whatever it is you are reading, newspapers, magazines, books, blogs, just read it out loud so that baby can hear you. Dads might want to give it a go too. Get them to read aloud whatever it is they are reading. So baby will start to recognise Daddy's voice as well.
The only caveat at this stage might be to not read very upsetting material. Any negative change in your emotions is likely to upset baby as well. So stick with cheerful, happy reading. And who knows, baby might just surprise you with a couple of words he picked up here!
Read To Your Little One
We started reading to J when he was just a few weeks old.
|Reading at a few months old|
Our baby was happy to lie and stare at the pictures when he was read to. Once he started holding his head, he used to sit propped up on my knee and peer at the book as I read to him. He loved thumping on his books, chewing them when I was not looking, and following my finger as I pointed out words and pictures to him.
Now that he is little bit older, he chooses his own reading material. We have moved on from board books, although they do withstand toddler handling much better. We are now picking up paper-backs, getting J used to the idea that he can read big-boy books.
The whole read-aloud experience is a lot more interactive now. J picks the book/s that he wants read, and toddles to us, one book at a time. He recognises pictures and words, characters too. He remembers, and can say a few words on some of the pages. More often than not, he tries to repeat everything that is read to him.
We have a rule in our house. Never say 'no' when J asks to read a book. Not till at least three have been read to his satisfaction. I try and go overboard with the dramatics when I am reading to him, M is a lot more sedate. So J gets to hear the same story from two different perspectives, and often chooses to hear both versions of the same book.
Why Read Aloud
I have noticed enormous benefits of reading aloud to my boy.
It is a brilliant bonding experience; we get to share an adventure together every day. We can be silly over a book, giggle and laugh together, pretend-play with some of the characters.
It might be the same story, but each retelling brings with it a new word that gets committed to memory. Eventually he will know them all and what they all mean.
It is a fabulous excuse to buy a new book. Every birthday, every celebration brings with it at least a couple of books as presents. So much better than the usual array of clothes and toys.
We always have somewhere to go to on a miserable, bleak, rainy day. The local library has a lovely children's section, and we enjoy spending time there surrounded by lots of fascinating books. J even gets to walk through the 'big people' section when I am browsing for my books.
Reading aloud is such a brilliant alternative to watching television. I believe it helps him sit still in one place for a length of time; it helps build his ability to focus and concentrate. Most importantly it is helping his speech and language skills, is helping him build a vocabulary.
I do believe this early initiation into the world of books has laid the foundation that will develop into a profound fondness for the written word as J grows up.