Many people begin reading books to their children from the time they are brand new babies. Why do they do this and should you do the same? Many experts agree that this is actually a good practice to get into. It might seem strange to read a book to a three month old baby, but, it is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your baby.
One main thing that it does is allow you precious time when you are speaking directly to your baby. Babies that are spoken to a lot score higher on standard tests when they are three years old than infants that were not spoken to often. So reading to your baby is just another way to add variety to the time you spend talking to your them and adding to their growing vocabulary.
When your baby hears you read, he hears what a narrative sounds like. He hears the different tones and inflections in your voice and his rapidly-growing brain starts to wrap around the idea of what a story sounds like. He might not consciously understand that, but, the brain grows faster at this time in our lives than at any other. Helping all of those networks connect is one of the best things we can do for our babies.
More than anything, though, your baby will begin to associate books/reading with happy, cozy times spent with you cuddling. As we humans are pleasure-seekers, this is an awesome foundation to lay for your child in the world of reading. The more and more we can help our kids to equate reading with pleasant, happy times, the better!
The interesting thing is that when our babies are very young, the words of the book don’t actually matter. They hear the different sounds of our voice and the different emotions and that is what is important. What this means is that we can basically read anything to them. We might even read the novel we’ve been enjoying to them, as long as we use lots of emotion and maybe even different voices for the different characters. It can be quite comical, but, it will all be teaching our baby vocabulary and helping their imaginations develop.
They will, of course, be drawn to bright colors and stark contrasts that a lot of infant books have. They will enjoy looking at that brightness and sharpness. And as your baby gets older, they will become more and more interested in the books themselves. They will even soon start grabbing for them and even sucking and chewing on them. So board books and cloth books are definitely in order.
About this same time, your child will really start to connect the books to special time with you. They will understand that when they see you get the book out, it is time for a great cuddle on your lap and lots of lovely social interaction with you.
Reading to your baby, if nothing else, is a wonderful peaceful time to spend together. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised by the long term results.