Having just a few moments together reading a book with your child bring you closer together than most things. Reading together tells your little one that you love spending time with him or with her.
When you read to a baby or a toddler it is different than reading to an older child, though it is similar in that you want it to be a fun experience.
When you read with a baby, choice of book is important. Babies like textures to touch and features that open and close on the page. Hard books are best because the baby can even turn pages.
The baby you hold probably loves being cuddled and listening to the sound of your voice. This is a time you can even be silly and have fun together. You can even try singing the words.
With a younger child, you have to be prepared to match what you do with what he can do. For example, you don’t need to read every word on the page or even every page. Sometimes you can just point at the pictures and give them a simple name.
One of the important ways to involve him in the reading you are doing is to ask questions. Have him point to the kitty. Ask him what the kitty says. Let him talk about the kitty before you turn the page or go on to the next sentence.
You want to encourage him to talk more and to tell you anything about the story or at least about the pictures. Ask him what the specific people or animals are doing and listen while he tells you the story that he has figured out.
Any time during the day is a great time to take a break and read for short times. Sprinkle positive feelings about reading throughout the day. An especially good time to read is during quiet times each day such as before naps or after lunch.
As your child grows older, he may want to pick out the book or to pick to read the same book over and over. Actually, reading the same book again and again both increases his vocabulary and attention.
You can read even timely books with young children. Books about children being sick can help your child understand about vaccinations to keep them healthy. Books with children of different races helps children learn about children from different backgrounds.
When you read you can do it sitting together or across from you on the floor. The important part is to read often.
While learning to read is one of the main goals in the early grades of school, the foundation is laid in these earlier years. When your child sees that you value reading books, he is likely to develop the same feeling.
Check out books from the library or make a trip to Goodwill. Books are all around. Find the ones he loves and enjoy the closeness this experience brings to your parent-child relationship.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.