Reading to children between 0-3 years
We all know the benefits of reading to our children in preschool or primary school. But did you know that you can begin reading to your child even when they are inside the womb? Research shows that the sense of hearing develops in-utero, at around 7 months. When you read to your baby in-utero, they get used to your voice and it serves as a point of comfort after birth. Your voice and the book will be familiar and calm the baby when they are overwhelmed by the new world they have come into. Reading regularly to your child has innumerable benefits and the earlier you start, the better.
Benefits of reading to your child
- Reading to your baby aids in cognitive development and puts them on the early path to becoming readers.
- When you read to your infant or toddler, the time you spend together helps in building early attachment which is crucial for healthy psychological development.
- Reading aloud is the foundation of language development. Infant and toddlers are going through a receptive stage of language development which means that even before they speak, they are listening and internalizing all the words they hear.
- Reading aloud exposes children to characters, vocabulary and ideas that may not come up in everyday conversations.
- Listening to rhythmic reading helps children understand speech patterns and make important synaptic brain connections.
- The illustrations in the book help in comprehension and art appreciation.
- Reading with different tones and voice modulation helps your baby’s emotional and social development.
What kind of books to read at different stages and how to read them?
Birth to 6 months
- Black and white board books
- High contrast board books
- Fabric Books
- Texture Books
- Photo albums of family members
Make reading a part of your everyday routine and also read whenever your baby shows interest. You can also stand the book up on the floor during tummy time. Your baby may engage by grabbing the book, try to mouth it and turn the pages – let them explore through all these ways. During this stage, don't be too bothered about finishing the book or telling the story and instead use this time to familiarize your baby with books.
6 months to 1 year
- Board books with realistic images
- Simple non-fiction board books
- Books with one word on each page
You can slowly increase the number of minutes you read to your child per day as well as the number of books. At this stage, your baby might show a preference for one or two books and keep asking you to repeat them. This is a developmental stage of learning. Hand over the book to your child and let them explore it however they wish. You can also start relating the images in the book to everyday experiences and have short conversations at this stage.
1 to 3 years
Your toddler will now begin to spend more time with books and also gain independence in choosing their favourites. They may even start pointing to different parts of the book and ask for the word. You can also begin to ask simple questions and ask them to point to various things when they show an interest. However, don't ask too many questions as it might discourage them from reading. As your toddler is beginning to walk and move more, they may want to just hold the books and walk around. As their spoken language develops, your child may recite some parts of the book from memory. They may also take the book and tell you the story using the words they know or pretend to read it. These are all wonderful ways for your child to connect with and engage with the book – just stand back and observe without interrupting.