There are many good reasons to engage your baby in reading as early as possible. Children who fall in love with books at a young age gain access to an infinite world of knowledge that will expand their vocabulary, nurture their curiosity and imagination, and inspire an interest in learning to read and write.
By the age of 9-10 months, babies are beginning to make connections between the sounds they hear or the signs they see and the meanings assigned to them. Showing and reading books to your little ones is another wonderful way to immerse them in language, with all its rhythms, sounds and subtleties.
Reading with your child is:
- a moment of enjoyment, sharing and complicity between you and your child… and the rest of the family too!
- a way to slowly develop the skills your child will need to be ready to start school.
The research is clear: a child introduced to words and writing before beginning school has a greater chance of success.
How to make reading enjoyable?
Children live in a world woven with stories. They are particularly fond of stories they discover in books with the help of an adult storyteller who can bring them to life. Here are a few practical tips :
Develop a habit of reading: Establish a daily reading routine together and show your child that you read too, be it the newspaper, a magazine, a recipe book, or a novel! Your child will see that reading is a normal, useful and enjoyable activity. Reading won’t simply be regarded as an obligation that comes with starting school.
Get comfortable: A calm and comforting storytime will quickly become associated with positive emotions.
Study and comment on the cover: “What do you see? Who do you think is the hero of the story? Do you know this author?” Explore the clues together to predict what the story might be about and arouse your child’s interest!
Take your time: Turn the pages slowly to give your child enough time to observe the details in the illustrations, and name everything your child points to in the book.
Practice interactive reading: Use the illustrations to explain the text and ask questions: “Where do you think the bear is hiding? Behind the tree? What colour is his hat?” Take time to focus on more complicated words and help your child decipher their meaning by using the clues in the story and the pictures. Make connections between elements of the story, the characters and elements of your life or your child’s life.
Help your child develop critical thinking skills: Encourage your child to talk about the books you read together:
- elements he or she liked or disliked?
- things learned?
The benefits of early reading
- Establishes a special time with your child
- Develops an interest in reading and books
- Increases attention span and ability to listen
- Stimulates the senses and fine motor skills
- Develops imagination and curiosity
- Improves language proficiency and openx the door to writing
Did you know?
Children who look through books on their own every day at age 2½:
• will be more motivated to read for pleasure in elementary school
• will be more successful in school at age 15
Source: Institut de la statistique Québec
How to choose the right book?
- Choose plastic, cloth, or sturdy board books, or books with textures that your baby can use his or her senses to discover, by touching, smelling, and even chewing.
- Choose colourful books with few words and large illustrations.
- With babies and toddlers, start off with books in which you can name the objects rather than tell stories.
- As your child’s interest grows, involve your child in choosing the books you read together, and vary the format, genre, and content of the books you propose.
- By offering your child a choice of books, you give he or she the opportunity to show interest and develop preferences and curiosity, all of which foster engagement in reading.