Why Read to Babies?
February 28, 2010
Tonight I was reading "Good Night Moon" to my baby and he shut the book. I opened it, he shut it, open, shut, open, shut. Giggles ensued.
Clearly, he was more interested in playing with the book than with reading it. What's the point of reading to a baby who is too young to understand? He's probably just going to chew on the book anyway, right?
With a baby, the object isn't so much as to finish a story from beginning to end as it is to savor and enjoy reading. Even before literacy, even before comprehension, babies get a lot from books.
First, there is the pleasure of your company. Babies learn to associate books with special cuddle time.
Babies begin to understand that books are fun. Most babies like to taste, hit, and toss their toys--that's why so many classic stories for babies come in board book format. Let them! A baby who chews on board books may later devour literature in the intellectual sense.
Gradually babies learn that there is a connection between the story and the book. How magical! Here is an object that has a story inside and the same story each time! This repetition creates a sense of orderliness in baby's world. As baby starts to predict what will come next, he gets a self-esteem boost. My son loves to kiss the kittens in the book goodnight. He guessed that the kittens were on the next page and he was right!
As infants turn into toddlers, they will point to objects in the illustrations and may begin to connect them with the names of these objects--a fantastic learning opportunity.
Books become a way of processing concepts, events, and feelings. When you open a book with your baby, you are entering a safe world where you can explore together.
As kids grow, pre-literacy skills develop. Toddlers notice that those funny black squiggles are somehow connected to the words of the story. Older toddlers and preschoolers begin to recognize letters and possibly even words.
Reading has an important place in a baby's life from day one. We read together not just because it prepares our children for learning but also because it is a fun and special bonding time.
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