Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Sharing with Your Little One

This one goes out to all the babies. All the babies who can’t read yet, which is, well, all of them. But there are plenty of things you parents can do with your little ones to get them familiar with books (and no, none of the things are the My Baby Can Read program. Or any other types of flash cards or ‘as seen on TV’ methods of teaching your infant to read, just in case you were wondering).

When is too early to start reading to my child?
Never! Incorporating books into your bedtime routine is a great way to introduce even the youngest bookworms to literacy and book sharing. You may find that a short, rhyming book will have a soothing tone for young babies, especially before bedtime.

What types of books should I be reading to my baby?
All kinds! Different types of books teach different things. Obviously, though, to babies, you wouldn’t read autobiographies or encyclopedias. Stick with picture books, rhyming books, board books, bathtub books (the plastic kind that are waterproof), and touch-and-feel books that stimulate a baby’s senses.

Don’t just read- explain.
Most babies’ books have very few words, so moms and dads- get creative! Tell your baby more about what’s going on in the book. ‘That’s rice cereal like you had this morning.’ ‘That’s a baby! That’s a puppy! Do you like puppies?’ Doing so will engage your baby with the pictures and your voice, allowing her to process the whole experience.

Don’t just read- point.
When you are explaining what’s going on in the story, try to do two things:
1.    Follow the text with your finger as you are reading. This lets your child know that text goes from left to right and has meaning, or is telling us what the story is about.
2.    Point to the objects you are talking about. This allows your child to make connections between what you are saying and what he’s seeing.

Don’t just read- ask.
Even if your child is too young to answer, asking questions about what is in the book teaches valuable lessons- that your child will likely encounter once she’s in school. Ask your very young baby simple questions like ‘Where’s the chicken?’ Ask your older child tougher questions like ‘What do you think will happen next?’ or ‘Why do you think she decided to do that?’ If your child has trouble answering, use clues in the book to help her.

Should I be trying to teach my baby to read?
Nope. With babies, concentrate on meaning, not teaching reading or the alphabet, says Dr. Anne van Kleeck of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Children and Families. Did you know that no study shows that children who learn to read before the age of five have any long term advantages? So relax and enjoy reading time with your child!

My child is not interested in books. Help!
I recently shared a guest post on just this topic! The blog is called Mad for Reading. It’s a great blog with lots of tips and ideas for reading with children.


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