Sunday, October 21, 2007

Beginning with Books

Want to raise a reader? Begin introducing books to your baby right from the start. Think your baby is too little to enjoy a book or get anything out of the experience? Think again. Babies are busy developing important connections in their brains during the first years of life - especially the connections devoted to language skills. The more your baby experiences language, the better equipped he will be to eventually learn to read. Talk and sing with your little boy and he'll have an attentive audience to begin talking and babbling with you. Share books and rhymes with your baby. He'll gain vocabulary and begin to understand how his native language works (for instance, recognizing the individual sounds that make up words). The experiences you share with him today will are a valuable investment in his future!

When your little boy is a baby, it doesn't matter what you read to him. The point is that you are reading aloud and sharing the beauty of language with him! So pick up the newspaper, your favorite magazine, a recipe, the latest novel, or a picture book. If he sees you reading - and enjoying it - he'll associate reading with pleasure.

Check out board books - sturdy books made just for babies and toddlers - at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. Carry them in the diaper bag and have them ready to share during those waits at the doctor's office or in line at the grocery store. Keep a book or two in the crib for your baby to play with on his own. Have books in the toy box.

When your boy flips through the pages quickly, touches, chews, and tosses his board books, this is reading! It may not look like it, but this is the beginning of reading - figuring out how a book works! Don't force your little one to sit still for a book. If he looks away or disengages, put the book down and try at another time. Eventually, he'll be able to pay attention for longer periods of time. In the meantime, keep it short and fun!

And you'll be helping grow a reader...

Need a few suggestions? Look for board books with simple, bright illustrations. Too much action or detail on a page can be overstimulating. Photographs of other babies, people, and common experiences are always appealing to little ones. Try touch and feel books, as babies are sensory learners. Nursery rhymes and books based on songs provide the beginnings of phonemic awareness - a skill he'll need to become a reader someday. Common themes such as bedtime, dressing, and family life are really interesting to babies. For more ideas, just ask a Youth Services Librarian!

No comments: