Monday, June 26, 2006

Too Early for Reading? Think Again!

When is it too early to introduce your baby to books and the joy of reading? The answer may surprise many new parents, but the reply is that it is never really "too early." Experts are saying that as soon as you want to start reading to your little one is fine. If he or she is not able to comprehend what you are actually saying, at least there will be an association with good feelings, a calm and even voice, and a book.

Children are learning to read earlier than in the past, too. Parents often work with children with some kind of phonics program before the child is at the point in school when learning to read usually took place in the past. It may be one of the few things that have proven beneficial when it comes to wanting children to excel a little earlier than it would have happened if a parent would not have gotten involved.

One of the better ways to make sure a child knows what a wonderful and magical world it is when one has a love of reading is to let the little one see you with a book. When the baby has grown into "toddlerhood" and can comprehend what you are saying, talk about some of the books you liked when you were a child. Let him know that there is a whole magic world in the pages of books.

As soon as the child is old enough, start taking him to the children's section of your local library. It is a good idea to allow him to choose the books that will be checked out. They may not look so great to you and you may have chosen differently, but try to grin and bear it and let the little one choose her own adventures.

Allow your toddler or preschooler to follow along in picture books. Take the time to point out what's happening in pictures and listen to what the child is saying and observing. After a time you will notice that they have parts of favorite books memorized and will go along pretending to "read" by reciting the memorized sections of the book.

Don't forget that there are words, and thus a reason to read to a child, everywhere in life. All the food boxes and cans have words, billboards while traveling, things that come in the mail, and so on. Point out words, especially the same words that you know the child is used to seeing in favorite picture books.

One thing that is always fun is to record a reading session on a micro cassette recorder. The child will not only be able to hear you reading the book again (and will maybe want to follow along in the book while listening to the tape) but will be learning to follow along with the words while doing so. Kids love hearing their own voices on cassette tape, so it will be fun hearing the discussion about the pictures, too.

Consider playing a word game. Print out a dozen or so words onto papers and tell the child to try to match the word to the household item it matches. (Don't forget to make one of those cards "Mom") If he is too young to truly be able to read the words, draw a little helpful sketch onto the card. It may seem like too young of an age to catch on, but they will start associating the shapes of the letters they see with the sounds that come with the words.

Remember that starting to build a library for the child is important even if you visit the library often. It is always a good idea to have some books available that will belong to the child. One great place to look for books is yard and garage sales. You will also be able to find tons of books on eBay, but keep an eye on the shipping charges. Unfortunately many sellers are starting to charge much too much for shipping.

If it is difficult for you to buy books due to finances and the budget, consider requesting books for the child for birthdays and Christmas from family members who will be asking for gift ideas. It is a great way to be able to add to the ever-growing personal library that will hopefully be a treasure to the child for many years to come.