Reading to Babies to Promote Early Literacy
Reading to infants and toddlers is a good way to prepare them for later success in reading.
- Make reading a pleasure. Read to your child in a comfortable place. Have her sit on your lap or next to you so that she can see and point to the print and the pictures. Show her that reading is fun and rewarding.
- Show enthusiasm as you read with your child. Read the story with expression. Make it more interesting by talking as the characters would talk, making sound effects, and making expressions with your face and hands. When children enjoy being read to, they will grow to love books and be eager to learn to read them.
- Read to your child often. Set aside special times for reading each day, maybe after lunch and at bedtime. The more you can read to him, the better- as long as he is willing to listen. Reading times can be brief, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Talk with your child as you read together. Comment about what's happening in the story. Point to pictures and talk about what's happening in them. When you child is ready, have him tell you about the pictures.
"See the cat under the tree?"
"Look, the family is getting into the car. I wonder where they're going?"
"What's happening on this page?"
- Encourage your child to explore books. Give your baby sturdy books to look at, touch, and hold. Allow her to turn pages, look through the holes, or lift the flaps. As you child grows older, keep books on low shelves or in baskets where she can see them and get them herself. Encourage her to look through the books and talk about them. She may talk about the pictures. She may "pretend" to read a book that she has heard many times. Or, she may pretend read based only on the pictures.
- Read favorite books again and again. Your child will probably ask you to read favorite books many times. You might get tired of reading the same books, but children love hearing the same stories again. And it helps them learn to read by hearing familiar words and seeing what they look like in print.
Even six-week-old babies like the feeling of closeness when a parent, grandparent, or other caretaker reads to them. When children find out that reading with a loving adult can be a warm, happy experience, they begin to build a lifelong love of reading.
Reading aloud also helps children learn specific things about reading and words.
- About books... how to hold them. How to turn the pages one at a time. How books have words and pictures to help tell the story.
- About print... there is a difference between words and the pictures. You read words and look at pictures.
- About words... every word has a meaning. There are always new words to learn.
- About book language...sometimes book language sounds different from everyday conversation.
- About the world... there are objects, places, events, and situations that they have not hear about before.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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