Today’s post is a guest post by Elaine of Following Augustine! She is sharing the benefits and joys of reading with little ones.
Be sure to check out Elaine’s site at edebock.wordpress.com!
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Let’s get into it…
One of the most precious gifts that a parent or grandparent can give a child is the gift of reading. Not necessarily teaching them to read, but reading to and with them. One of my favorite memories from my years of teaching elementary school is that of reading to my students every day. It always saddened me to know that for some children, that was the only time they were ever read to.
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. While he or she might seem too young to understand, baby will enjoy being close to you and listening to the sound of your voice and will quickly learn to associate this feeling of comfort with books and reading.
Reading to your little one is also a great way to introduce concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way. Instead of simply reading the words, talk about the illustrations and as baby gets older, begin asking questions. “Where’s the puppy?” “What color is the car?” “How many balloons?” Immersing your child in language helps develop listening skills and memory and begins to build a rich known vocabulary even before they start to talk.
At some point, your toddler or preschooler might choose a favorite story that they want to hear over and over again. This might seem a bit mind numbing and you may even be tempted to hide that book away in a deep, dark closet, but don’t do it! According to children’s author and illustrator, Rosemary Wells, “All really good picture books are written to be read five hundred times!” By all means, encourage your child to listen to other stories, but keep on reading that favorite one too. What you read isn’t as important as the fact that you do.
Picture books often repeat key words or phrases over and over again. Even before your child learns to read, they will probably begin to recognize these patterns in familiar stories.
When you’re reading aloud and come to such a word or phrase, pause to see if your child will “read” it themself. As they begin to participate in this way, the excitement of reading grows.
Once your child learns to read on their own, have them read to you or introduce paired reading where you take turns, but don’t stop reading to them. As they get older, you can introduce chapter books, perhaps reading one chapter each day.
This is also a good time to introduce them to a variety of different kinds of stories. You might even be able to share a favorite book from your own childhood.
Make reading with your child part of your daily routine, perhaps before nap time or bedtime. This gives you and your child an opportunity to cuddle and connect and its calming effect might also help your little one fall asleep more easily.
Books are costly, but there are inexpensive ways to surround your child with them. Second-hand stores and garage sales are often good sources of books at very reasonable prices. And then there’s the library, a never-ending source of books for all ages. There, your child can have the excitement of choosing for themselves from a vast array of books.
Many libraries also have story time for babies and young children. While you’re there, you might want to choose a book for yourself too. Modeling reading is a great way to encourage your child’s interest in books.
Reading is the key to lifelong learning. It has the power to take your child to faraway places and opens their mind to a whole world of possibilities. If you can instill a love of reading at an early age, you will have given your child a priceless gift that lasts a lifetime.
Elaine is a retired elementary and junior high school teacher, the mother of three grown children, and grandmother of eight. She has been writing the blog, Following Augustine, for over fourteen years.
Thank you, Elaine, for your post!
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