Many new parents find great joy in reading to their babies. It is never too early to start reading to your baby and some women, in fact, read out loud to their babies while they are still pregnant.
But when it comes to structured story times for your baby, you may be wondering how old your child should be before he or she can truly appreciate them. Granted, you can put even the littlest newborn in your lap and gently read a classic book like "Goodnight Moon" or any other favorite, but structured, group story times can be enjoyed at any age as well.
Most public libraries offer story time programs for babies and toddlers. If your baby is under one year old, you should be able to sign him or her up for a "Babies" program. My local library, for example, offers a program for babies aged zero to twelve months. It's called "Raise a Reader" and it's a great way to introduce babies to the concept of group story times and sing a longs.
Even little babies are usually mesmerized by bold, colorful picture books and familiar, repetitive songs. By taking your baby to a group story time each week, he or she will begin to learn a variety of new words and songs.
Because most public library programs are free, they are a great way for you to do something wonderful for your baby without spending a dime. Another plus? You will get to meet other moms and babies your child's age. A library story time could turn into a play date with another child-- and your baby is never too young to meet new friends (and neither are you, for that matter).
If your local library is a busy one, you may be required to sign up for story time sessions. Make sure to stop by the library or check their website to see the dates and times for story time sign ups. Other, smaller libraries may offer drop in story times which don't require pre-registration. If your favorite library does not offer children's story time programs, speak to the head librarian to inquire why. If it is strictly a budgeting matter, perhaps a few inquiries could generate enough interest to have them establish something.
Another option is to take your child to book store story times. Most large, chain bookstores offer story times both during the week and on weekends-- just check their schedule to see if there are age appropriate story sessions for your little one. If you are a stay at home parent, try to take advantage of story times that are offered during the week-- weekends can get busy at libraries and book stores. Also, be sure to ask the librarian or story leader for any handouts pertaining to story time. This could include book suggestions, song lyrics and finger plays or rhymes. By "practicing" these story time favorites with your baby, he or she will become more familiar with them and will truly be mesmerized the next time you go to story time.