Have you heard how important it is to read to babies, but find it difficult to engage your child in this activity? Does your little one seem to not care about books, or doesn’t want to let you read through them? Don’t worry, just by trying - you’re doing great!
Research shows that having lots of books around and offering books to your baby helps them learn that books are good, and books are important. Even if you think they aren’t listening, try reading to them anyway. Little bodies are meant to move so if you baby crawls away or your toddler wants to run around while you read, that’s okay! They are still hearing your voice, listening to the cadence, the patterning and the rhythm. They will still hear some of the emphasis you make, some of the rhyming that happens, and will catch glimpses of the world inside the book.
When you read with your little one, they learn that each page tells us something. Having you read even just a bit of a book here and there teaches the concept of books to pave the road for a later love of reading.
Even if you only get through two pages, that’s great! When they’re little it’s okay if you don’t make it through the entire story at once. It’s even okay to skip pages, to look through the book backwards, or to just select a page with their favourite illustration and look at it a while!
Little babies especially love books with real pictures. If you only manage to look at one page together before you lose baby’s attention, that’s okay too!
What can they learn from one page and how can you engage baby? You can say “look!” and point. Pointing and drawing their attention to something on the page is part of joint attention and that, right there, is a milestone. You can also name the item in the picture which helps develop their vocabulary. Try making a sound to go with the picture. If the picture is of a cow say "moo" or tell baby "a car goes vroom vroom". Describe the picture. Is it shiny? If there is a person on the page, do they look happy? Sad? There is lots to learn rom a book aside from what the text says.
Remember, just the act of exposing them to books helps with language and literacy skills, is forming a great habit, and is a wonderful bonding experience.
Check out our video about reading with little ones for more info and ideas.
- Jenny Raspberry CLKD’s Infant & Child Development Coordinator