Why read?


Reading to a baby who doesn't seem interested or keeps crawling away can be disheartening. This article takes a look at the importance and the benefits of reading with babies and toddlers.

How does reading from such a young age benefit my little one?
When should I start reading to my child?
How do I pick the most appropriate books?
My child is not interested in reading, what should I do?
My child reads at nursery, do I still need to read with them at home?
When is my child ready to learn to read themselves?
My child keeps ripping flaps off books, what should I do?
Is bedtime the best time for books?
Who is the best person to read to my little one?
Our family speaks more than one language at home, can we read in both?

 

How does reading from such a young age benefit my little one?

Reading is a great way for infants to bond with those around them. Sharing a story is a very special time of day for everyone involved and creates lasting happy memories! Preparing a child to read from birth will have many benefits as they reach nursery and school: it will aid their concentration, increase their attention span, and prepare them to read. Books can introduce your baby to words and scenes they are not familiar with; this gives them a wider vocabulary as they learn to speak. Many books are written with rhyming sounds and onomatopoeia; this will introduce your little one to a wider range of sounds, which aids speech development. Visit our video library to see how the children in our reading families have benefitted from being read to regularly.

Research shows that tablets, laptops and other screen-based technologies are not beneficial to brain development before the age of 2. Books, however, help to develop the motor skills, language and sight regions of the brain, to name a few!

When should I start reading to my child?

Some parents read to their babies whilst in the womb; research shows that this helps the baby to recognise his or her mother's voice and the sounds of their native language which is great preparation for learning to talk. Other parents wait until their baby is born, introducing books and stories to your baby's world from birth will familiarise them with the sound of your voice and help to build reading time into the whole family's routine. If you are unsure of what to read, why not join the baby book club to receive books chosen by experts with child development in mind?

Watch mum Katie read to Buddy when he is just 3 months old.

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How do I pick the most appropriate books?

Babies and toddlers develop rapidly; we all remember thinking 'where did the first year go?' Books are made with the different stages of development in mind; books with high contrast images are best for babies under 6 months as their eyesight develops. As children get older, introducing books with progressively more text and complex images will happen naturally. We understand that it can be confusing when bookshops list books as suitable for '0-3 years' so we have taken the time to recommend books monthly in our little ones' library.

Watch Early Years expert Helen Butcher talk about a variety of books suitable for little ones.

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My child is not interested in reading, what should I do?

Even as grown ups, we have days where we like something and days where we don't. It is important to not give up permanently if your child is disinterested in reading; let them crawl or walk away and then try again at another time or on another day. You may find that your little one enjoys books more at a certain time of day, like bedtime or after a nap - use this as a regular reading slot. Another way to encourage little ones to read is to let them see how much you enjoy reading; your little one aspires to be like you and will want to read if it looks like you are excited by a book.

Watch the videos below to see how much Isaac has changed from crawling off at 9 months to joining in with reading at 15 months.

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My child reads at nursery, do I still need to read with them at home?

It's great that your child gets to enjoy books and stories at nursery, but it's so important to keep reading at home so that your little one continues to enjoy books.

When is my child ready to learn to read themselves?

Your child will usually begin to learn to read when they start primary school. They may learn to recognise familiar words like names before this but the brain is not ready for reading until at least 3 years of age. Until then, you can keep reading with your child to prepare and excite them for learning to read.

My child keeps ripping flaps off books, what should I do?

Every parent experiences this with their child; little ones very rarely know their own strength! Some lift-the-flap books are made with sturdier, thicker card, and we would recommend choosing these if your child has a tendency to rip flaps. Why not take a look at the range of lift-the-flap books in our little ones' library?

Is bedtime the best time for books?

Some parents find that bedtime is a great time for books, others find that it excites their child too much at certain stages in their development. The best time to read to your little one is up to you and your little one. It is certainly good to build reading into the daily routine so that your little one can look forward to sharing a book with you, but it's also good to go with the flow and read any time you or your little one feels like it. 

See what time of day Early Years expert Helen Butcher recommends reading to your little one.

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Who is the best person to read to my little one?

Anyone! Every person who reads with a baby or toddler will bring their own style and teach your little one something new. It will help your little one to love books even more if everyone around him/her shows how much they love books.

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Our family speaks more than one language at home, can we read in both?

Of course you can! You don't need specialist books to read to your little one in a second language, you can simply translate the story or make up a new one based on the book. It's great to introduce your baby to all of their languages at a young age so that they practice using the sounds from both.

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Do you have a question for the Routes to Reading team? Contact us to get even more advice on reading with babies and toddlers.

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