Reading to a child is a sure fire way to create a lifelong love of reading.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

It is common knowledge that reading books to toddlers and preschoolers is an important ...

Jenny Stoltey, Youth Services Coordinator, Belmont County District Library

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”- Emily Buchwald

            It is common knowledge that reading books to toddlers and preschoolers is an important and special way to promote brain development and vocabulary recognition, while nurturing the bond between the child and the reader. Many of our fondest childhood memories take place on the lap of a loved one being read a story from a colorful, eye-catching book. As toddlers, we gained many language skills from the stories we were read. Learning to connect what is written with what is being read aloud builds reading aptitude in a fun and unassuming way. Reading to a child is a sure fire way to create a lifelong love of reading. But, is the same true when reading aloud to a baby?

            The answer is ABSOLUTELY! Just as reading to a toddler builds word recognition, sharing books aloud with a baby is just as crucial to the development of the infant brain. While infants may not understand or grasp the concept of the words being read, it does help with speech development. Reading aloud teaches infants about speech patterns such as rhythm and phrasing, positively affecting cognitive development. Reading to babies not only establishes a love of books from infancy, but also cultivates a baby's understanding and eventual use of vocabulary.

            While the benefits of reading to infants are similar to that of older children, there are a few slight differences to keep in mind when selecting material to read to your baby. Books intended for baby should be easy for their small fingers to manipulate and be loaded with various tactile objects, such as rough, furry, or smooth surfaces. The type of book is also an important feature to pay attention to. While it may be tempting to choose the biggest, brightest picture book you can find, for infants smaller books made of cardboard, plastic, or cloth are much more durable. Especially when everything…and I do mean EVERYTHING… eventually ends up being an item to be tasted and chewed.   Actions such as this are perfectly natural and help the baby learn the appropriate way to handle books.

            While subject matter is important when trying to keep the attention of a toddler or preschooler, it isn’t quite as important as content when choosing a selection for your baby. Try picking books with short, direct phrases that make note of their surroundings. Books that make use of rhymes and colorful pictures are great ways of making the connection between what is being read and what is being seen. Over time, increasing the length and complexity of the book will expand your child’s literary experience, challenging them to put to use their newly acquired skills.

            There are many fantastic books to choose from that are geared toward infants. The following are just a few in a long list that will kick start your baby’s lifelong love of books and reading, while introducing them to the vast world around them:

Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea 

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson

Whose Toes Are Those? by Sally Symes

Baby Faces by Sandovik Innovations, LLC

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