10 April 2012
Benefits of Reading to Babies and Children
By: Leanne Williams (Early Childhood Program Manager, The Little Big Book Club)
In her book Reading Magic, Mem Fox states: “If every parent understood the huge educational benefits and intense happiness brought about by reading aloud to their children, and if every parent – and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation.”
The benefits of reading to children are many. The human brain is most open to environmental influences in the first few years of life, with 75% of brain development occurring between birth and the age of four. Sharing stories and songs with your baby is the most important thing you can do as a parent to help their developing brain. As a baby absorbs new sights, textures, scents and sounds, the connections in their brain that make learning possible multiply and become stronger.
Research has shown that children whose parents read to them when they are young learn to speak, read and write more easily. It is never too early to start reading to your baby. Even though they may not understand the words that you read to them, they love hearing the sound of your voice and they learn that reading is important and fun. Most importantly, it is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby.
10 Tips for Nur t uring a Baby Bookworm
- Try and read with your baby every day. Find a time when they are happy and interested in what is happening around them.
- If they get tired or restless it is ok to stop. You don’t have to finish the book.
- Babies like books that ha ve bright, clear and simple pictures. They enjoy books about things they are familiar with such as animals, food, toys and other babies! Some of my favourites are:
- See Me Move;
- Baby Gets Dressed;
- Where Is The Green Sheep?
- Dear Zoo;
- Maisy; and
- Steve Paris Board Books.
- Board books are great for babies as they will want to grab the pages, put them in their mouth and throw them. This is ok, it’s how they learn.
- If you are worried about babies damaging books, keep precious books on a higher bookshelf but make sure there are lots of sturdy board books in baskets and on low shelves that little ones can reach themselves.
- When you are reading to your baby try to look at both the book and your baby. Point to the pictures and talk about the things your baby is looking at.
- You don’t have to read the words that are written on the page – it’s ok to make up your own story.
- Try and make your voice as interesting as possible. Use different voices for the characters in the story, if there is an animal in the story make the sound the animal makes. All of this will help make reading fun and enjoyable for your baby.
- Books make great gifts. Ask family and friends to give books as birthday or Christmas presents. They also make a great baby shower gift.
- Collect your free It’s Story Time Bag. All babies in South Australia are eligible for a Little Big Book Club It’s Story Time Bag. These bags are available for your baby during their first year from your local library or from Child and Youth Health. It is full of fun resources to help and inspire you to read and sing to your little one every day.
About the Author: Leanne Williams is the Little Big Book Club Project Manager and is responsible for the implementation and ongoing development and promotion of LBBC’s range of resources nationally. Leanne has a Bachelor of Education and fifteen years’ experience in teaching children aged three to thirteen. She has taught in both Australia and overseas providing her with many rich and diverse experiences. Her passion has always been children’s literature and literacy.
The Little Big Book Club are currently running a survey in conjunction with UniSA on how SA families talk, read and communicate with their babies. Click here to complete this short survey.
Note from Laura (Sustainababy founder): Reading is a great way to teach your child certain concepts. Books about new babies can help ease the anxiety your current child experiences when a new addition arrives in to the household and better prepare them for life with their baby sibling. Children’s books focussed on caring for the environment will help nurture these values within your child from an early age. Reading is also an activity that can be eco-friendly and free! Just join your local library to start enjoying the benefits. If you would like to invest in your own library, Sustainababy’s range of books suited to babies and children are available to purchase here.
This article was provided by Leanne Williams for Sustainababy however has also been published in South Kids Magazine.