The joy of reading starts with toddlers |

The joy of reading starts with toddlers

Saundra D. Swanson
Parent Talk
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

One of the rewards in life in being a grandmother is watching our grandson getting ready to read. When Riley was born, I loved to watch his parents read to him, and I enjoyed the special times when it was my turn. Reading is always a time to cuddle, and share the love of books.

By the time he was 9 months old, Riley was organizing his books, “reading” to himself and choosing the books he wanted us to read to him. Now at 3, although he loves being read to, he especially likes to choose books that he wants to “read” to us.

Early reading beginning in infancy is a major factor in developing the parent-child bond, and in stimulating infant brain development.

Babies need books. Babies need to learn about books – which can include throwing, chewing, using it as a hammer, etc., until they finally get around to turning the pages and enjoying the story.

Research has demonstrated that the first three years involve the highest rates of learning and brain development, and the habits formed at a young age will stay with the child for a lifetime. Reading to babies is associated with the child having greater focus, interest, motivation and concentration in the classroom in later years.

I am frequently asked how to pick a book for babies and my answer is always the same. Babies love to look at pictures of other babies. A close second is baby animals, and familiar items.

I suggest starting the child out with “board books” so there is no anxiety about the baby ripping a page or the cover off. Remember babies need to experiment with their first books, so expect to see frequent eating, throwing and banging during the first six to nine months.

Also, think about giving the child their own book case, even if it is just a plastic box on the floor. Ownership and control of their books is very important to the toddler.

When a baby is old enough to choose a favorite book, parents are asked to read and reread that book again and again. The repetition and familiarity of reading a favorite book helps establish a strong positive connection between baby and books.

This holiday season, think about giving books to the children in your life.

Reading to young children helps to develop imagination, creativity, vocabulary and early literacy skills. Children who are read to on a regular basis and who have books in the home are more likely to enjoy books and to read on their own.

– Saundra D. Swanson is the executive director of the Family Visitor Program. “Parent Talk” appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month. The column is the result of YouthZone, The Buddy Program, Family Visitor Programs, Kids First and Roaring Fork Family Resource Centers teaming up to provide parents with information and resources about strengthening family relationships.

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