Reading aloud to your newborn baby stimulates his imagination and expands his understanding of the world. The rhythm and melody of language prepares him to understand the written word. Very young babies love the sound of familiar voices. They respond to nursery rhymes but what you read is not as important as how often you read.
Babies associate reading and books with pleasant feelings. When they hear repetitive sound and rhymes they begin to use their senses of listening, seeing and touching.
The Read Aloud Organization recommends reading aloud to your child every day for 15 minutes to grow vocabulary, bond with your child and create a lifetime love of books and learning. Babies learn best through interaction. TV, music and even talking to your baby do not provide the necessary stimulation that reading aloud provides.
What do Babies Like?
Babies love board books with simple bright pictures against a solid color background.
When they begin to reach out and grasp objects provide washable cloth books and vinyl books.
Try books with bright pictures of animals, baby faces and other familiar objects.
As your baby grows and begins to do activities for themselves read stories about going to bed, taking a bath or eating breakfast.
Try books with flaps to lift or tabs to pull.
Babies love family photo albums.
How do I Read to My Baby?
Hold your baby so that he or she can see the pictures. Newborns are extremely nearsighted and can only see objects clearly about 8 to 15 inches away.
Sing the words or make up rhymes using your baby's name.
Read for 15 minutes gradually increasing the time as their attention span grows. Don't worry if your baby doesn't appear to be listening at this stage. Just keep reading every day.
Babies put everything in their mouths including books so expect them to touch and taste. That's how they learn.
Provide a toy your baby can hold and chew on as you read.
Point to and name the objects in the pictures.
Ask your baby questions like Where is the dog? and Do you see the bird? Wait for a response.
Encourage your baby to babble and coo as you read.
As your baby gets older stay on a page as long as there is interest. If not move on to another activity. You are teaching your baby that this is a fun activity.
Keep reading. Taking the time to read to your child sends an important message: Reading is worthwhile.
As your child grows from baby to toddler and then starts school continue to read aloud. You've heard knowledge is power and books are full of knowledge and enjoyment. Encourage your children by example to relax and enjoy reading. The simple practice of reading aloud 15 minutes a day can begin a lifelong relationship with the printed word.