Here are some tips for reading to your child. We have divided them into three age-specific sections to help you as your child grows.
Ages 0-6 months
- Read anything that YOU want to read.
Reading to your child at this age is more about bonding than entertainment. Newspapers, magazines, your favorite author, TV Guide or even a technical manual for a computer will do. What is important is the one-on-one time spent with your baby. Remember to be cautious with anything printed on thin paper, a baby’s gripping hands can tear pages and the pieces torn will inevitably find the mouth.
- Don’t be too loud.
Read in your normal speaking voice or softer. Loud noises and sounds will only succeed in startling your baby. Save your uncanny ability to sound exactly like a bull in a china shop for when your child is a little older and will find it funny instead of scary. Animal noises are fine as long as they are not too loud.
- Be Patient.
If your baby is upset or fussy, save the reading for later. You want to make reading a pleasure for both you and your baby.
Ages 6 months to 2 years
- Choose books that are visually stimulating.
Books with large pictures and bright colors will help to hold your child’s attention.
- Textures add variety.
In today’s market there is a wide selection of books: board books, cloth books, touch and feel books, books with moving pieces, books that make sound, books that light up and even books meant for the bathtub. These will provide added incentive for your child to spend time with books on their own.
- Picture recognition promotes interaction.
As your child ages, they will begin to associate objects with their names, and books can provide an excellent source of practice. Start by pointing out objects in the books along with reading the story and as your child ages, begin asking where things are on each page. Example: “Where is the cat?” If they find it compliment them and have them look for something else on the next page. If the object you are having them point out is also in the area where you are reading, try having your child point that object out also. Example: “Good job, you found her eyes. Where are your eyes?”
Ages 2 years to 6 years
- Find their interest.
By this age your child will have likes and dislikes. Use this information in choosing reading material for your child. Your local library children’s department should have books on almost any subject, either as a storybook or as a non-fiction book. Don’t let the non-fiction deter you, even if you don’t find the book interesting your child may and finding books they like will encourage the love of reading.
- Funny voices and noises.
This is the age of your child where you get to start showing off your acting talents. You will hold your child’s interest and make stories more enjoyable if you use different voices for characters and make noises. Even if your voice range is your normal voice, a high voice and a low voice that change will give a little more life to your book. Don’t worry about looking silly. If you can’t show your silly side to your own child, who can you show it to? This is a good time to work on impersonations. Even if they’re bad, it is highly unlikely they even know who you are supposed to be impersonating. Door slams, breaking glass, motorcycles, zippers, animal noises and any other sound appropriate at that time in the story will also add to the enjoyment of the story.
- Visit the Library.
Now is a great time to take your child to your local library. Not only will they have more books to choose from than your home library, they will more than likely offer additional services.These services may include books on tape, videos, Read-Along books, and storytime. Storytime is a great source of entertainment and interaction with other children. Most storytimes have a theme that all of the books relate to as well as fingerplays, songs or a craft.
- Set a regular reading time at home.
Having a time set aside for reading is beneficial for both you and your child. It will set aside a part of your day for one-on-one quality time with your child, which will strengthen your parent-child bond.
- Let your child catch you reading.
If your child sees you reading that shows them that reading is fun and that it is something they can enjoy their entire life.