Friday, April 15, 2005

Instill a Love of Books in Your Little One

By Brandi Rhoades

If you and your partner love to read, you probably cannot imagine having a child who does not share your passion. While some of the love of reading may come naturally, there are ways you can begin to help your child enjoy books even when he is still an infant.

Read often. You can read to your newborn - or even to baby before birth - even though he will not understand what you are saying. Brand-new babies cannot see very well, and that makes reading to them seem pointless. Still, the cadence of your voice and the early introduction to books will help baby once he is a bit older.

Let her take the lead. Even at three or four months old, baby can see bright colors and may be awed by them as her eyes come into focus. Encourage this sense of observation when you are reading. If your baby seems enamored with a picture of a giant watermelon because of its bright red hue, do not turn the page because you are done reading it. Let her look and touch the book so that she is getting something out of it.

Establish a regular reading time. If you read to your child after the noon meal everyday or before bedtime, or whenever you choose, make it a routine. Infants will learn early about schedules and adding in a book or two everyday at a certain time will make it a natural part of life. Then, as your baby grows, the reading will seem natural because it has always been there - just like eating and changing diapers.

Alternative book levels. There is no need you have to read only baby books to babies. Because they are developing their language skills, you can read books of all levels, including adult books. While you may want to shy away from adult books after a couple of months, you can still pick up books for easy readers or young adults as your child will enjoy hearing the widened vocabulary these books have to offer. Do not skip out on very early board books and picture books, though. These books can teach numbers, letters, and other valuable information, so make sure you and baby experience a wide variety of children's literature.

Buy books for gifts. There is nothing that says you have to buy toys as presents. Make a book a normal part of your gift-giving for Christmas and birthdays. If books seem fun, then your baby will develop an excitement about them from an early age.

Be a role model. Maybe you and your spouse do not have the time to read that you used to. Still, if you are neglecting your hobby, then your child will not see adults reading. Take time out for yourself to read. Not only will you enjoy it, but you will be setting the standard for your chid.

There are many ways to model good reading behavior. Find them and teach your baby early that books are wonderful for entertainment and fulfillment.

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