Monday, November 22, 2010

Reading to Children

Lately our son gets giddy whenever my husband or I pick up a book. He smiles and giggles like he just can't wait to have a story read to him (even if it's the same story that he heard 3 or 4 times the day before), plus enjoy some cuddle time. This makes Bart and I very happy as before he was even born, one of the first we did was make sure his bookshelf was filled up with books. We also both practiced the habit of reading to him starting when he was just an infant. Around the 4-5 mon. age he would grab at the books, 6 mon. he learned how to rip them, and from 7-10 mon. it seemed impossible to get him to stay still, but we consistently kept on encouraging books/reading as much as we could- even if did exhaust more supervision and patience. Now he's almost 15 mon. and it's feeling great to know that it's working. It's also been very helpful in giving him the cue to calm down when it's time for nap/bedtime. 

Here's a great article that talks about all the benefits of reading to your child...reading to them even if you don't think they can understand what's going on in the book yet. I've also included my favorite excerpts below...

Reading aloud:
  • teaches a baby about communication 
  • introduces concepts such as stories, numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a stimulating and fun way
  • builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills
  • gives babies information about the world around them
Believe it or not, by the time babies reach their first birthday they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language. The more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk. Hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby's brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.

But perhaps the most important reason to read aloud is that it makes a connection between the things your baby loves the most — your voice and closeness to you — and books. Spending time reading to your baby shows that reading is a skill worth learning.

Try to set aside time to read every day — perhaps before naptime and bedtime. In addition to the pleasure that cuddling your baby before bed gives both of you, you'll also be making life easier by establishing a routine. This will help to calm your baby and set expectations about when it's time to sleep.

Cuddling while you read helps your baby feel safe, warm, and connected to you. 


  1. Both Justin and I have read to Cole from the beginning. He also went through the squirmy stage where it seemed impossible to keep his attention.
    Now we actually use the # of books at bedtime as motivation for Cole to get ready for bed without a fight. It works so well. We start at 5 books he gets to pick out and usually he always gets all 5. Some nights he drags his feet getting ready and picking up his room so taking 1-2 books away is something he understands.
    His preschool teachers have said that they can easily tell which children have been read to on a consistent level.
    As Benjamin gets older it will be even more fun than it is now to read with him.

  2. Brayden as of late, has really taken an interest in reading books, turning the pages himself, etc. I LOVE reading to him and hope that he loves it as much we do!

  3. So, the speech therapist in me had to comment here!
    During those "squirmy" stages (and even when they are older), you don't necessarily have to read the book word-for-word. You can talk about the pictures, what is happening in the story, what will happen next, etc. That's just as important and reading the actual story since you are teaching them the important pre-literacy skill of how a book is read (hold it this way, turn the pages from front to back, etc). It's also important for them to hear you making up your own stories, so they can learn to do the same. There is actually a link to a child's ability to understand and correctly tell a story (using specific story parts that we all use without thinking) and their future reading skills and academic success. A child's ability to tell and understand oral narratives (stories told aloud) can also greatly impact their social abilities as well.
    Okay- end story! :)