Age: baby, toddler, parent
Skill for Bub: Mind builder
Reading to your baby is an activity that serves several purposes. First of all, it’s fun! But the benefits beyond that lead to a lifetime of discovery.
Though most kids aren’t taught to read until age 5, studies of brain development indicate that the best time to begin reading to children is when they are between the ages of 3 months and 3 years. Experts say children’s fundamental language skills are acquired during infancy. An infant’s brain grows rapidly between the time she is born and age 4. Active reading, especially when accompanied by sounds, pictures, character voices and physical actions, significantly increases the number and type of neural pathways the brain develops.
Reading is also an ideal way for parents and children to simply take time out to be together. This interaction, in addition to helping children learn about the world around them, creates important bonding time. A study by the Philadelphia-based Commission on Literacy reported that little ones whose caregivers read to them consistently were more emotionally stable and far more likely to achieve academic and work success later in life.
- Make reading as interactive and fun as possible, and make reading part of Baby’s daily routine – a good time is after meals or before bedtime.
- Hold Baby when you read to him, take time to let him really look at the pictures and be patient when he flips through pages without actually reading.
- Point out interesting things on the page, vary your vocal pitch and create character voices.
- Stop reading when it’s clear that Baby has had enough. As he grows, he will have a longer attention span – make sure you have plenty of books on hand but that you don’t mind reading a favorite one over and over!