There are few gifts you can give your child greater than a love of reading. Here are some simple tips on how to ignite a lifelong passion.
1. Talk and read to your baby from birth
It’s never too early to read to your child. The two factors most predictive of a child’s future reading ability are how much the child is spoken to and how often the child is read to. When children hear language frequently, they become familiar with sounds and words and are more prepared for reading.
2. Hold your baby on your lap
When your baby feels happy and nurtured while you read, she or he will associate reading with feeling good.
3. Let your baby hold the book
Babies will want to explore the book with their hands and mouths. Let them—it helps your baby figure out how books work. Choose sturdy books, as well as books sure to engage, such as pop-up books or books with textures they can feel.
4. Choose rhyming books
Rhymes help reinforce the structure and rhythm of language, and can aid in learning vocabulary. They also appeal to toddler ears. Studies have found that rhyming and the rhythm that goes along with it makes it easier to remember things—which is why toddler’s can memorize some books before they can read them.
5. Reinforce and expand
When toddlers begin to speak, expand on their words. When a baby points to the moon and says “Mmooo,” say, “that’s right, that’s a moon.” And if the child says “cat,” add “yes, that is an orange cat!” to expand their vocabularies.
6. Be a role model
Enjoyment of a good book is contagious. When babies see their parents engrossed in reading, they are more motivated to read too.
7. Keep books within reach
Make sure your child has easy access to her or his own library of books. Let them play on their own with the books, and choose which ones to read. Reading the same book over and over might drive you mad, but repetition helps your little one learn.
8. Make it fun!
Your baby shouldn’t think of reading as a chore, so don’t make it into one. Enjoy your time reading with your little people, adding silly songs or playing word games.