Reading to your baby is one of the best things you can ever do for your child. Although you may feel silly doing it because you don’t think they’re paying attention or understanding exactly what you are saying, you are in fact encouraging early brain development and helping to develop language and pre-literacy skills. With around three quarters of human brain development occurring before three years of age, being read to from as early possible helps to lay the foundations children need to learn how to read, write and perform well in the classroom.
I started reading to my eldest child Alisha daily from around the time she was three months old. As time went on, we both came to love snuggling up and having that one-on-one time with together each day. I maintained reading as part of our routine because of this bonding element, not because of some underlying ambition I could nurture a baby genius. At best I was hoping Alisha would develop a love of learning.
To my astonishment, Alisha starting talking at 10 months of age. By 15 months of age, Alisha had a vocabulary of around 50 words and could easily follow two-step instructions. At 18 months of age, she now has a vocabulary of well over 100 words and is joining words together to make short phrases of 2 to 4 words – all skills which are not generally expected until age two and beyond. Nowadays, after we’ve tucked her in, every night she sneaks out of bed to pull a bunch of books off her shelf and we can hear her flicking through them and babbling to herself.
Four-month-old baby Sara also now joins in with daily story time. Sara loves listening to my voice and watching my face as I read aloud as well as looking at the pictures. Alisha even stops me during the story to point things out in the pictures to Sara, which is really sweet to see.
If you want to start sharing books with your little one, I suggest you start with board books because they are more durable and it’s easier for little fingers to turn the pages. Babies also love books that are interactive such as those with touch and feel elements or flip-flaps.
I don’t think children can ever have too many books. As a mum of two, here are my top five baby book selections:
- Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
- Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
- Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Itsy Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild and Jan Ornerod
Nurturing your parent-child bond, encouraging speech development and giving your child a head start in their education: who would’ve thought books were so powerful?