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Reading to Babies and Toddlers

With the advent of board books, reading to babies and toddlers has become a lot less stressful. Since board books are small, they fit well into a baby’s hand. They can be chewed on with relative safety, or thrown across the room. They’re equally visual and verbal, with the pictures telling the story as much as the words do. Recent research has shown that visual reading is an important precursor to verbal reading.

Pediatricians now say that it’s never too early to begin reading to infants and toddlers.  Children whose parents read to them get started on language and literacy skills much earlier than children whose parents don’t. In fact, one-third of children starting kindergarten today don’t have the language skills they need to learn to read.

 Early exposure to language, whether through singing, talking, or reading has a deep-seated influence on children’s learning throughout their lifetime. According to Nancy Shute of NPR, “hearing language from a television isn’t the same.  For young children, the words have to come from a live human.” NPR: June 24, 2014.

 Here are 7 Reasons Why It’s Important to Read to Infants and Toddlers:

1.  Reading helps them develop strong trusting relationships and bonding.

Reading to a child is a one-on-one activity that you can turn into a special time with your baby or toddler. It exposes the baby to the sound of your voice, which is soothing for him or her.

 2. It helps develop vocabulary and mature speech patterns.

Studies have shown that children who have been read to as newborns and toddlers have a larger vocabulary. It also has a profound effect on advanced mathematical skills than other children their age. There’s also a link between how many words a baby hears every day.  Babies and toddlers whose parents read to them a lot scored higher on standard tests than other children their age.

 3. It prepares him/her for reading on their own and eases difficulties.

According to Kenneth Wible, MD of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, research shows that the more words a baby is exposed to, the better prepared he/she is to eventually start reading on his/her own.

4. Reading to children enhances their information about the world.

Babies that are read to consistently they take it all in, vocabulary and language structure, numbers and math concepts, colors, animals, shapes, manners and more. This is useful information in their world. Choose diverse books to prepare them for a diverse world.

 5. Introduces Emotion.

When you read to a baby or toddler they’re exposed to feelings through the different sounds you use when reading, whether it’s describing wats happening in the book or using a specific voice for a certain character. A scary voice implies fright, a happy voice something pleasant, etc.

 6. Reading teaches them about new as well as familiar topics.

It’s important to expand your toddler’s world. Don’t be afraid to expose them to new subjects even if they have no context for the subject matter. Sometimes toddlers get ‘stuck’ on a certain book and want to hear it over and over again. Despite its annoyances, repetitive reading offers a surprising number of benefits for new and upcoming readers. These include:

         ~ Vocabulary and Word Recognition

         ~ Pattern and Rhythm

         ~ Fluency

         ~ Comprehension

         ~ Confidence

 7. Reading with a baby or toddler shows them that reading is fun.

Reading with a baby or toddler isn’t always easy. Rarely do they sit still long enough to get through one book without wiggling away, losing a shoe, poking you in the eye, or grabbing another book. Even though it isn’t easy it can still be fun and you should do it every day. Making it part of your family routine indicates it’s something to be enjoyed, and not a chore. This will foster a love of reading that can last a lifetime, and help in the school years yet to come.

 Once a child has developed a love of reading it does become easier. Those wiggling toddlers don’t wiggle as much, they begin to ask questions, identify with characters, and they ask for more. The board books offered at Pygmy Giraffe are aimed directly at this crucial stage of reading. Bright colors and images engage the newborn and helps them focus their eyes on simple patterns and images. Toddlers will learn how to count in Let’s Count Butterflies, and even parents will enjoy learning the name of each butterfly as it appears on the page.

 If you think your baby is too young to reap the rewards of reading think again! Recent research shows that it’s never too early to begin enjoying books with your infant or toddler. So, get ready to break out a copy of Let’s Count Butterflies, or Pug is Happy, and enjoy all the benefits that come from reading board books to the smalls!





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