Posted by Mary Jimenez, the Early Childhood and Community Engagement Program Manager
Reading is a great opportunity for families to allow the world to quite around them and enjoy being in the moment of spending time together. There are many adults who have fond memories of sitting with their loved ones and enjoying a good book together, but not many know when they should begin this ritual of their own. Should it begin once the child knows how to read or sooner?
The answer is: the earlier the better.
Parents should begin reading to children as early as when babies are in the womb. Because the baby can hear the world around them, it’s a great way to begin language development. Once the child is born, they will take what they heard in the womb and apply it to how they begin to communicate through their coos and other sounds.
You might think it may be difficult to read to a baby or toddler who can’t sit still for more than a few minutes, but there are ways to engage very young children and babies in reading. Read the stories with animation and excitement. If the story itself doesn’t seem to engage the child, focus on the pictures and talk about what is on the pages. You can also ask questions and encourage them to think about the pictures. And don’t forget to ask their opinions. Doing this is just as important as reading the actual story. Kids want quality time and attention. Spending time with them and interacting with them, through asking questions about the story and looking at the pictures, is a great way to do it.
Exposing children to reading continues to allow them to gain a better understanding of the world around them and helps them strengthen their reading and writing skills. Reading aloud at an early age exposes the children to a larger base of words and concepts to draw from as they get older, and it provides children with reading and understanding words in the future.
Reading aloud with children is so important because it helps them to understand the concept that letters form words, words form sentences, and sentences form stories. Once they grasp this concept, they are able to move on and experience all of the joys reading has to offer.
To find additional resources for parents, visit Resources for Parents and Caregivers
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