I believe that it is never to early to start reading with your children. Children become readers on the laps of their parents and I really feel that a love of reading is contagious. If you are reading to your child from a young age and you let them know how much you love it they are much more likely to enjoy reading throughout their life. Even though its not a guarantee, it is worth a try not only because it increases the odds, but because story time is so fun I really believe that and I feel that my love of books is partially a product of my mom’s love of books and her mother’s love of books before her. What a wonderful “inheritance” to pass on!
However, reading with babies isn’t always easy and story times are definitely never perfect. A babies mood can change from moment to moment and their attention spans aren’t always the longest, let alone interested in focusing on books. That being said, I still think that story time with babies this age can be incredibly rewarding as well as enjoyable. All it takes is a little patience, creativity and a lot of flexibility. Below are some tips that worked for us that I hope make story time with your babies more of a wonderful experience.
Occasionally Let your baby prompt story time.
You can do this by having books readily available all over your home. When you find your baby looking through them and showing interest seize the opportunity by sitting on the floor next to them and exploring them together or read aloud a few.
Add to the story with funny sounds and tones of voice.
I don’t always read books with silly voices, but occasionally I get a big kick out of it and so do my kids. For those times that I don’t feel like doing silly voices throughout the book, but I notice my baby is loosing interest, I add funny sounds that go with the story. For example, if there is an animal mentioned I make the animal noise and so forth. Another opportunity is to pick a word that is repeated throughout the story and emphasize it with a different tone. For example my kids love a board book where a little girl is looking for her cat. Every time she says her cat’s name I call it out like we are searching for her. It is now one of their favorite books for this reason alone.
Embrace the During Story Babbling
I once read or heard somewhere that before babies can talk and are in the babbling stage it is beneficial to respond to them and talk back and that these “conversations” can help with language development. I can’t remember where I read that and I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know that I love practicing that with my babies and it feels like a wonderful bonding experience for us. Often when reading babies will begin to babble along. Maybe they want “in” on the fun, maybe they are trying to “read” themselves, maybe their are just parroting back what they hear. Either way, it’s a good change to engage with them and “talk” about the story.
Make Reading An Interactive Experience
If you are reading a book with touch-and-feel features or flaps it is pretty easy to get your child engaging with the book. However, in books where there aren’t these features you can still encourage your child to engage with the book. Point to pictures and talk about what they are, make hand movements to go with the story, or even invite your baby to do the page turning. If your baby is engaging in the book then they are more likely to pay attention, benefit and even have fun.
Choose age appropriate books.
What books you choose can make all the difference. For my thoughts and tips on choosing books for this age check out my post here. For a list of our favorite books for this age check out my post here.
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