A child’s curious mind is a valuable and wonderful thing! With the reading load required throughout school – not to mention throughout one’s lifetime – it is important and rewarding to instill a love for reading and learning at a young age. This sounds like a simple task, but can sometimes seem daunting when you have an adventurous toddler that does not want to stay still! So this month, let’s discuss how much you should read to your child, and what types of books are appropriate for each age group.
Try reading to your child by 4-6 months old (I would even challenge you to start reading from day 1!). As newborns, it is comforting and enjoyable for infants to hear their parents’ voices. You can read short or long stories at this point and incorporate songs and lullabies. At this stage, the emotional impact of quality time spent together during story time is more important than the context of the stories.
Around 6 months, children will become more interactive during story time. At this point, books with bright, large pictures and few words are most appropriate. Allow your child to help hold the book, interrupt the story, and even put the book in their mouth! Cardboard books, stand-up and fold out books, or soft books are much easier to use. Your child is learning much more through the interaction, so do not be discouraged if you are skipping pages or not finishing the book. A 6 month old will start to associate your excitement for reading with the books she holds and sees.
Between 6 and 12 months, your child will start to show excitement for reading by kicking their legs, patting the book, or even helping to turn pages. At this age, try and incorporate reading into a daily routine. It will be much more enjoyable for you and your child if reading time occurs when he is fed, dry, and at least somewhat alert. Reading time does not necessarily need to take more than about 3 minutes a day, but it is also important to continually talk to your child throughout the day – no matter how silly you may feel. At this age, you can skip pages, ask questions, or digress by pointing out pictures during the story. These months are extremely formative for a child’s development.
Between 1-3 years old, books that are repetitive, catchy, and educational are easiest to read. Books that teach numbers, foods, colors, and more in a fun way help your child’s speech development and establish a love for reading. From Pre-K to early elementary school age, books with smaller pictures and more words per page are more enjoyable and engaging.
Make reading time fun for you and your little one. These are suggestions, not hard-fast rules. You know your child’s personality best – cater to their strengths and encourage him along the way! Reading aloud with your baby teaches skills such as listening, communication, memory, and socialization. This is a unique kind of bonding experience that gives them your undivided attention, which is truly what a child loves and deserves.