Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reading Rocks!

Courtesy of

Activity for: Babies & Parents

Summary of benefits:
Reading to your baby is an activity that serves several purposes. First of all, it's fun! But the benefits beyond that lead to a lifetime of discovery.

Though most kids aren't taught to read until age 5, studies of brain development indicate that the best time to begin reading to children is when they are between the ages of 3 months and 3 years. Experts say children's fundamental language skills are acquired during infancy. An infant's brain grows rapidly between the time she is born and age 4. Active reading, especially when accompanied by sounds, pictures, character voices and physical actions, significantly increases the number and type of neural pathways the brain develops.

Reading is also an ideal way for parents and children to simply take time out to be together. This interaction, in addition to helping children learn about the world around them, creates important bonding time. A study by the Philadelphia-based Commission on Literacy reported that little ones whose caregivers read to them consistently were more emotionally stable and far more likely to achieve academic and work success later in life.

I started reading to my daughter when she was 2 or 3 months old. My parents, my brother and even my own husband were amazed to see me reading to my baby. “It’s not like she understands what you’re saying.” They said to me. It doesn’t matter, I answered. She doesn’t need to understand, I just wanted her to feel comforted by my voice and show her the colorful pictures in the book. I wanted to cultivate a love in reading in her as early as I could, so she would enjoy it in the years to come, just like I did. Now she looked forward to the bedtime reading as much I did. I tried to read to her every night, but being the imperfect mother that I am, I did miss some nights. But it was incredibly satisfying to see her actually wait for me to start reading to her. I felt that I had succeeded in my small mission.

Below are some tips on how to start reading with your child:
  • Make reading as interactive and fun as possible, and make reading part of your baby's daily routine - a good time is after meals or before bedtime. For me, the bedtime reading has become a major bonding time. I found that my daughter goes to bed without much protest and falls asleep without too much trouble.

  • Hold your baby when you read to him, take time to let him really look at the pictures and be patient when he flips through pages without actually reading. But if you have a more “involved” child like my daughter, she’d prefer to sit on the book itself to get a closer look.

  • Point out interesting things on the page, vary your vocal pitch and create character voices.

  • Stop reading when it's clear that your baby has had enough. As he grows, he will have a longer attention span - make sure you have plenty of books on hand but that you don't mind reading a favorite one over and over! Or, to keep it cheap, buy one book with many stories like I did i.e. Two Minutes Bedtime Stories.


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