Today you’re a Princess locked away in a faraway tower waiting to be rescued.
Tomorrow you’re crossing lakes of fire and slaying dragons.
The night after that you’re in an enchanted forest communicating with animals.
The day after that you’re flying through the sky and sleeping on clouds.
And the day after that all of your toys come to life.
There’s nothing quite as immersive and imaginative as floating away into a new world.
And nothing has the ability to do such a thing as books do.
Reading is so critical and while your little one might not have the capability to quite understand what you’re reading just yet, developing that habit and love for reading at a young age is so important. And there’s no such thing as starting too early.
However, as parents, it can be a little confusing knowing where to start, what books to start with, and how you should be reading to your child in their very early stages of life.
In this article, I hope to make things a little clearer for you.
We’ll talk about all the benefits of reading to your newborn baby, and how you should be reading to your child at certain ages, as well as some great examples of books you should try.
The Benefits Of Reading
So why is reading so important? There are actually plenty of reasons why reading to your baby before the age of one is a healthy habit to form. So let’s take a closer look at them.
Forming that close bond with your little one is pretty important but it’s actually one of the best times of parenthood in my opinion.
There’s nothing like spending time with your bundle of joy.
And what’s even cuter to think about, is that your baby feels the exact same way.
In your baby's eyes, nothing compares to some quality time with mom and dad, so you should really feel privileged.
All those loud and bright toys, all those colorful tv programs, all those soft and fluffy toys, they don’t hold a candle to your full and undivided attention.
They absolutely love spending time with you and this is the perfect way to do so.
Speech & Sounds
Reading aloud to your little one is also a really great way to introduce them to different sounds and the rhythm of speech.
And this is great, as this fun bonding experience actually really helps advance language development.
In fact, a study has shown that babies that were not regularly read out loud, had a whopping million-word gap between those that were read to regularly by the time they start school.
How To Read To Your Baby At Different Ages
Depending on the age of your baby, you’ll want to choose certain books and read those books a particular way. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail.
Birth To 6 Months Old
So your little bundle of joy has been welcomed to the world.
Obviously, at this point, everything is still very new and they haven’t yet learned to process everything in the same way that you and I can.
Your baby's teeny tiny eyes are still developing so you’ll want to opt for story books that are predominantly bright and bold pictures.
There’s not really much point at this stage in choosing books with lots of text. Not just yet.
Instead, you’re much better to select books that are interactive and a little more hands-on.
Books with peepholes, mirrors, and puppets are perfect for newborns.
It gives them something to play with which will keep them engaged and entertained.
Don’t forget to give them big reactions when they do interact to encourage them.
At this point in their lives, they can’t really understand the big words that you say to them, but if you do read aloud then you’ll want to really focus on your tone of voice.
Your baby can pick up on the musical notes of how you are speaking and they really do love it.
Some great book examples for this age range are:
- Look! Look! – Peter Linenthal
- Little Poems For Tiny Ears – Lin Oliver
- Baby Beluga – Raffi
- Little Blue And Little Yellow – Leo Lionni
7 – 12 Months Old
At this point, your clever little boy or girl has finally begun to understand some of their first words.
Meaningful and important words are usually the first to sink in. Things like ‘Mommy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Drink’, and the like.
At this age, opting for books that focus on one particular subject is great.
The repetition of the subject along with pictures and illustrations really helps teach them what that subject is.
You want to start using exaggerated hand movements and pronunciations to help stimulate conversation.
Just remember at this age, your little ones are pretty heavy-handed.
They love pulling, yanking, grabbing, and just touching everything. So you may want to pick board books over paper ones.
- Llama Llama Nighty Night – Ann Dewdney
- You’re My Little Baby – Eric Carle
- Pat The Bunny – Dorothy Kunhardt
13-18 Months Old
And we’re finally at the age where you can start introducing books that have a few sentences per page!
Kids at this age love interacting with their parents when they are particularly animated.
If there’s a cow on that page, then you need to give them your very best moo.
If there’s a sheep, get practicing your best baaaaa. And soon enough they’ll be making those adorable sounds themselves.
You can also start to introduce participation into your reading.
When you see that cow on the page, ask them what does the cow say?
As they get towards the end of the age gap you can start asking more advanced questions such as what is this?
- First 100 Words – Roger Priddy
- Babies Love Colors – Michelle Rhodes
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
19 – 24 Months Old
By this age, most children are really excited about reading time. It’s familiar and is probably part of a relaxing bedtime routine.
By this age, your child probably has their favorite books that you read over and over again.
Although you may grow tired of having to read the same book repeatedly with the exact same tone and questions throughout, this repetition can actually be really beneficial for them.
And it is known to help them recognize and learn lots of new words.
- Just Go To Bed – Mercer Mayer
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Bill Martin Jr
- Knuffle Bunny – Mo Willems
As you can see, it’s really important to introduce reading time to your little one.
And why would you not want to? It’s the perfect bonding time for you and your baby.
And there’s nothing like listening to your child giggle as you make all those animated sound effects.
If you are looking for an introduction how to teach your child to read, be sure to get some useful tips from our next post.