A love of listening to well-read stories begins during infancy when babies recognize your own excitement for reading. At any age, making time to read together, choosing the right book and implementing a story time schedule will put you on the right track to raising an active reader. You should set aside time for story reading each day, but you’ll quickly discover it’s anything but routine.
Try these tips in your child’s first five years to set an early foundation for reading appreciation, develop language skills, foster creativity and bond with your little one:
Before birth. Research demonstrates that babies respond to books that were read to them in the womb. During pregnancy, story reading establishes voice recognition and promotes cognitive development in your baby. Story time will help her distinguish your reading voice from your speaking voice, especially if you choose the same time each night to read. The rhythm and melody of voices serve as the prenatal foundation for language, so choose a rhythmic story with cadence, a warm tone or repetition—repetition leads to recognition! (Our suggestions: “How do I Love You?” by Marion Dane Bauer or “Chicka Chicka Boom” by Bill Martin Jr.)
Age 0 – 1: Reading books should be a favorite bedtime activity at this age. With daily “tuck-in” stories and snuggling together at bedtime, children will begin to associate comfort and warmth with reading. Sturdy board books with bright illustrations are easiest to handle and invite participation. Books with familiar subjects like babies, animals and parents will resonate with babies since they respond to faces and eyes before other stimuli. (Our suggestions: “Peek a Who?” by Nina Laden or “Counting Kisses” by Karen Katz.)
Age 1 – 3: Research shows that the frequency of reading in a child’s first three years is associated with advanced language and cognitive scores later in life. Choosing a variety of stories outside of your child’s immediate world introduces new experiences and storylines. This will help him begin to develop preferences, build vocabulary and understand story sequencing. Tune in to his preferences and integrate other likes—favorite toys, animals or memories—to make reading fun. Ask his teacher for a list of books the class is reading and read those together at home. At this age, interactive or participative reading makes reading dramatic and captures your toddler’s attention. Ask lots of questions, act silly and try out different character voices. Tip: Nonfiction and fiction books with vivid illustrations and rhyming and repetitive text will pique lively dialogue! (Our suggestions: “Book!” or “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle.)
Age 4 – 5: Preschoolers are ready to discover the magic of books for themselves. They’re at a fanciful age developmentally so encourage dramatic play and let natural feelings and enthusiasm surface. Don’t be afraid to bring up topics they may be curious about, like a new sibling on the way or the first day of kindergarten, and let books help them work through it. Ultimately, books help young children understand their own feelings when characters face similar life events. “Try on” different authors, introduce genres and encourage your child to explore a variety of books to develop interests and discover favorites as well as learn about more complex story structures with plot and characters. (Our suggestions: “The Red Book” by Barbara Lehman or “A Splendid Friend Indeed” by Suzanne Bloom.)
For more parenting tips and book suggestions from Primrose Schools, visit our 360 Parenting blog at PrimroseSchools.com/360Parenting. To learn more about the Primrose Schools in Lawrenceville, visit http://www.PrimroseSchools.com or call 1.800.PRIMROSE.