Reading is a wonderful vehicle to take children on imaginative journeys, teach them new things, and help them get around in our world. Did you know that laying the foundation for reading can start as early as infancy?
One of my go to gifts for new parents is a board book because experiencing books with infants is the start of a lifelong love of reading. I say “experiencing” because it may not look like reading initially.
My younger son definitely tasted books (more than looked at them) as a baby. He had a positive experience with books though, and that is the goal for reading to your infant. For babies, early childhood experts recommend board, vinyl or fabric books with large pictures, photographs, and touch and feel opportunities.
As children become toddlers, building reading aloud into your routine (whether it is looking at pictures in the car, reading in the grocery store line, or a book before bed) is an important step in your child’s literacy development. It’s okay to skip pages or focus on one page or picture. Let your child choose how much or little time you spend reading. Children 18 months and older may enjoy turning the pages.
When you run your finger along the words as you read, young children start to understand basic principles of print. Again, the goal is to have fun and encourage positive experiences for your child. Try to create voices for the characters, choose books with predictable words or rhymes, and use your body to tell the story. Let reading be a time to talk about the story, especially if it can relate to your child’s life. Reading aloud helps children build background knowledge and vocabulary and expand their listening skills.
Children will gravitate towards certain interests or authors’ styles as they continue to grow. Story times and online resources (e.g. http://libguides.ala.org/recommended-reading/children) are great places to find new favorites. Maybe you will find one at CDM’s Discovery Library’s story time, which offers fun book readings and special related activities. Wherever books are enjoyed, providing fun, exciting interactions goes a long way in making successful readers.