Reading is truly fundamental to a child’s literacy and language development. Children have wonderfully fruitful imaginations and reading helps to expand that imagination.
It is never too early to read to your child. Infants and toddlers pay special attention to their parents’ voices. They observe your mouth and how you form words. By talking to a young child they learn how our language works. They also learn about the rhythm and rhyme of language and the pleasure and power of reading. Talking to young children stimulates the development of their brains, too. Reading to children is one of the best things a parent can do!
Find time to read to your child every day. It is a good way to relax before naptime or bedtime. Here a few tips that may be useful:
• Find a comfortable place to read together
• Turn off the TV or stereo so you and your child are not distracted
• Have your child select a book he or she wants to read
• Read the title of the book and the names of the author and illustrator
• If your child is aware of other books by the same author or illustrator, talk about them
• Show the cover of the book and point out details of the illustrations
• Talk about what kind of book it is (fiction, nonfiction)
• Describe where the story takes place (city, farm, woods, outer space)
• Talk about the characters in the story
Do not forget about the local library as a source of books and magazines to read to children. Many libraries also offer weekly storytimes that are fun for the children, too. Getting your child a library as soon as he or she is old enough not only makes your child feel “grown up,” it is also a great way to help them develop a love of books and reading.
You may find yourself reading a favorite book over and over. That’s okay. Children enjoy and learn not only spoken language, but written language as well. It is one of the steps on the way to becoming a reader and writer. Never underestimate the power of reading to your child. The benefits can last a lifetime.