Monday, May 09, 2005

Reasons to read to your baby

Everyone knows it is important to read to children. It clearly helps their vocabulary, comprehension and reading skills as well as improving their general knowledge. In addition, children who have been read to statistically are more likely to be avid readers themselves. Children who are avid readers do better in school in all of their subjects.

But, some people do not know that it is just as important to read to your baby! From the time an infant is born, dramatic developmental changes are taking place in the brain. Babies are like little sponges, soaking up all of the things their senses can absorb. Language development does not just occur when your baby begins to talk; it begins at the first moment your baby hears your voice. Babies learn by listening to their parents and caregivers. When you talk to a baby it not only makes him feel happy and comfortable, it is broadening his verbal and aural horizons. Everything you say is in some way contributing to his current and future development and is forming the base for his ability to learn things in the future.

So, why read to him instead of just talking to him? First, reading is simply a good habit and the earlier you both get used to it, the better. Babies who are read to are more likely to grow into children who are read to, which in turn makes them avid readers with all the associated benefits we have already discussed. Additionally, the process of reading is different from the process of simply talking to your baby. He will gradually learn to associate the pictures in the books you read him with the words you are saying, making new and powerful mental connections. And, even before those connections are made, he will enjoy just looking at the bright and colorful illustrations in the baby books you have provided for him.

Finally, when you sit down and read a book to your baby, you are entirely focused on the process of doing something with your baby. It is fine to talk to your baby while you go about the business of your day, but it is also important to just spend time on one-on-one activities with your infant on a daily basis. This ensures he feels loved, nurtured and helps him thrive.

They make a wide variety of books in baby-safe board, cloth and vinyl formats today. Years past, there were only a few options available for those who wanted to share books with their infants, but today there are thousands of great choices in the baby book section. Remember to let your baby spend some time with his books even when you are not reading. While initially, he may just chew on his books, or simply turn a couple pages, he will grow to love looking at the pictures and "reading" them himself. Very little is more precious than a toddler sitting and reading himself one of his favorite stories.

Books are very accessible and baby books are not very expensive. For those with tight budgets, baby books are readily available used at children's consignment stores, used book stores, library-benefit bookstores and garage sales. And, you can always borrow books for free from your local library. There are so many reasons to make books a part of your baby's life and virtually no reasons not to, so make sure to start a storytime reading ritual with your little one today.

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