Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Early Lit Tip Tuesday-Encouraging a Love of Reading in Your Infant

A common question among parents is "I know that I'm supposed to encourage my child to read, but just HOW do I do it?"

I'm here to tell you that the answer is a lot more simple than you think.

Read Aloud.

You're probably thinking, really Lisa? That's it?

Yep. That's it.

Reading aloud to your child is THE best way to encourage a love of reading, and you should start reading aloud to your baby from birth-though it's never too late to start.

Reading aloud to an infant soothes them. They love the sound of their parent's voice, and the more that they hear it, the stronger the bond between parent and child. This simple act of soothing by talking and reading to your child evolves as your child grows older.

As your infant become a toddler, hearing your voice and exposing  your child to the varied word sounds that are delivered through books, your child becomes aware of speech patterns, and is acquainted with specific speech sounds, even if they cannot yet speak themselves. This is people that don't learn their second language from birth will always have an accent.

As your child becomes aware of the speech patterns of the written word. Though they cannot read, they are becoming aware of the writing on the page. They are beginning to identify the letters on the page, and the sounds that go along with them. This identification, that your child isn't giving you much clue that it's going on, is actually laying the foundation for learning to read. You may find that your child actually learns to read much faster than other children in their age group once the concept of reading is actually taught in school, all because of hearing stories read aloud to them.

But you're still might be thinking, Yeah, that's great Lisa. I get it, reading to your child is great. But my kid won't sit still for a story.

Sitting still for a story is a learned ability. I.e. it becomes part of a routine-Mommy or Daddy reads to me, I sit still and listen. And as with any routine, the best way to create one, is to practice.

I would suggest starting with a bedtime story, put on PJ's get all ready for bed, and then sit down somewhere quiet together, with as few distractions as possible. Start to read. If baby only wants to sit still for a few minutes, good job, praise him or her, and move on. Keep at this routine every day/night, and before you know it, your child will be sitting through an entire story! But don't confine yourself to just one time of day to read! Once your child gets the hang of sitting still, any time is a good time to read. According to Mem Fox, your goal should be to read three books with your child a day:
  • One old "favorite"
  • One familiar book
  • One new book
Another way to encourage reading is to provide your child with lots of books that they can "read" on their own. Boardbooks and cloth books are quite sturdy, and can easily be put in a bin for baby to browse and play with. You don't have to spend money to provide your child with these books either. Most public libraries loan out boardbooks free of charge, and you'll even be able to provide your child with a new selection every time the ones your currently have checked out are due!

Now that you have a plan for how to get your child to sit still, and books from your library to read, when you're reading, BE ANIMATED! Though you may feel like the biggest dork in the entire world, your child will think you are the coolest, funniest, person ever! Don't be afraid to be boisterous, silly, and make funny faces, you're just enhancing the story, and enhancing your child's learning!

Now that you know how to read to your baby, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

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