Books are invaluable for teaching children about a whole wealth of topics, including using their imagination, expanding their horizons, provoking thoughts and inspiring ideas, and of course learning about the world and everything in it. Plus of course, to do well at school and in adult life, being able to read well is hugely important.
The earlier you can get your child interested in books and reading, the more naturally they’ll take to it, giving them a distinct advantage as they progress through kindergarten and into school. The question is, what’s the best way to introduce books to very young children and encourage them to enjoy reading?
Reading to infants and toddlers
There have been numerous studies over the years that prove how beneficial it is for children to have stories read to them right from birth and continuing even after they can read for themselves. When you first have a baby, you might wonder what they can gain from being read to when they won’t understand or be able to look at the pages of the book.
In fact, the sound of your voice is enormously comforting from the first days of life, and getting into the habit of reading to your baby gets you both into the routine of a cuddle and a story before bed. This is a special bonding time, and as your baby grows up they’ll soon start to pick up the sense of what you’re saying, which will help their language development.
Engaging young children with books
As soon as your baby can use their hands to touch and grip, they can start playing with board books, cloth books, and bath books. The range of books for babies is immense, but if you don’t want to spend vast amounts of money try borrowing different types of books from your local library and see which kinds your baby enjoys most.
You don’t have to limit yourself to books that your baby can hold for themselves though. One excellent way to get them interested in different stories is to give them something to hold or play with that relates to the story. Wooden toys are ideal for this purpose, so for example, if you were reading a story about the jungle or a farm, your child could have a set of wooden animals to play with while you’re reading. You can encourage them to match the toy with the animal in the book, so they show you the lion toy when the lion in the story roars, for instance.
Making connections between stories and pictures or real objects is a great way to help your child learn about language and get them interested in reading for themselves. There are all sorts of ways in which you can make stories come alive; if you’re struggling to come up with ideas just have a browse online, and you’ll soon find some inspiration.
The benefits of reading are so many that it’s worth getting serious about helping your child develop a love for books.