Parents wonder when is the perfect time to begin reading to their children. Reading is absolutely essential for the development of language skills, but when is the right time to begin reading aloud to a child? Even newborns have limited language skills. Sure, it is in the form of crying when there is a problem and cooing when content, but it is still language. Do newborns benefit from hearing words read aloud from a book?
Beginning a Lifelong Appreciation for the Written Word
It is suggested that reading to the child who is still in the womb is beneficial. It gets the child used to the mother’s voice being spoken in a soft and soothing manner. Though not a single word will be recognized, the innate response to soothing as opposed to harsh sounds exists.
Experts indicate that it is the rhythm of the spoken word along with all of its inflections and pitch changes that intrigue a newborn child. Shop for children’s books before your baby arrives. Begin reading aloud from all the favorites you had while growing up, and add in some contemporary authors as well.
A mother reading one of her favorite childhood stories aloud to her baby still in the womb will initiate good emotions and pleasant feelings that are beneficial to both mom and the baby. It will begin a bonding experience that can easily be continued as soon as the baby arrives. There will already be the association of that rhythmic flow of language from reading aloud from the written word as being a good experience. This will help the newborn to relieve stress and promote calm in these new surroundings.
Developing the Child’s Reading and Language Skills
Everyone remembers picture books. Before anyone could read a word, most kids liked looking at the pictures in our children’s books. There are soft plastic books made for newborns and tough cardboard ones made for toddlers. Begin to redirect interest to the actual books as soon as the child shows interest in the pictures. Ask the little one to point out the key characters as they are introduced. A farm story is filled with opportunities to point out the cows, chickens, the farmer and the barn while a city story is filled with opportunities to point out cars, policemen and firemen.
Develop language skills by asking questions. “What sound does the duck make?” or “What does the fire engine sound like?” It begins with just reading to the child, and it develops into skills that prepare a child to be able to one day read on his own through simple repetition and consistency. Do not be concerned about reading the same bedtime story a hundred times, but sneak in new content as well. Demonstrate to the child that there is a wealth of information and myriad imaginary worlds that can be found in books.
A campaign begun by Margaret McNamara in the 1970s stated that “reading is fundamental.” It truly is. The way people learn and advance as human beings is based on the ability to learn from those who have come before them. Reading what has been already written is the fundamental means by which that process works.