How old should my child be before we start reading?
Even though your child may not be ready to talk, you can start reading aloud to them from the very beginning. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that reading aloud with your child begin in infancy and continue into Kindergarten. There are many benefits of reading to your child including building brain development, promoting language, preparing them to learn to read in the future and strengthening your relationship. Experts recommend reading aloud with your child for 20 minutes, every single day!
Tips for reading to your child:
-Build reading into your daily routines.
Sitting down to read in small chunks throughout the day is just as powerful as sitting to read for longer periods of time. Try building reading into your everyday routine. You can read while waiting for breakfast, read while waiting in line at the grocery store, read after diaper changes, read before bed and more! Choose what works for your family.
-Choose topics that are interesting to your child.
Babies may enjoy relaxing cuddle time while reading with their caregivers while toddlers and preschoolers may enjoy books about things that are important to them such as cars, animals and feelings. Look for a variety of books at your local library or around your home. Talk about similar experiences that your child has had with story characters and events such as, “Do you remember when we saw a fire truck like that one at school?”.
-Ask questions and allow your child to ask you questions.
As children get older, they are thinking more about this world. You can ask your child open ended questions like “How do you think the frog felt?” or “Where do you think they are going?”. These kinds of questions can promote language and creative thinking. You can also ask ‘why’ questions to encourage thinking skills such as “Why is the bear sad?”. Try to limit your questions so your child does not feel pressured. Provide them with plenty of time answer and if they don’t, that’s ok!
-Be silly and have fun!
Reading aloud in different voices and using silly faces will help engage your child in a book. The same book can be read hundreds of different ways! You can even try to make up a new ending with your child. Position books so that children can see the pictures and make sure that you’re both having fun. If your child is not interested or is pulling away, try again another time.
Reading with your child is such a special gift you can give to yourself and your child and best of all, it’s free!
For more information and resources on reading, you can visit The Children’s Reading Foundation.