Often, when people talk about the importance of reading to children, they mean reading to children who are three years or older – some people even mean children over the age of five! But more and more research is showing that it is better to start reading to children from birth.
Doctors all over the world are giving the same advice to new parents: start reading to your baby immediately and keep reading to him or her. Why? Because we know that children’s brains develop the most from two weeks after the baby is conceived to the time the baby is three months old. Recent research also shows that reading to children under the age of three, helps them to meet important brain development milestones. In fact, the later you leave introducing your children to books, the more difficult it is for them to develop the literacy skills they need to be successful at school.
When babies don’t yet understand many words, sharing books with pictures, rhymes and simple stories helps teach them vocabulary and language – and it gets their brains thinking! It’s also a wonderful way to relax and bond with a baby.
As babies grow, the more you read aloud and talk to them, the more words they hear, and very soon you’ll hear them using the words themselves! They will also find out how the print has meaning and how we tell stories. But most importantly, when parents and caregivers read often to very young children, these youngsters grow up seeing reading as fun and worthwhile. So, they are more likely to choose to read in their free time when they are older. This is important because the more children read, the better they become at reading … and the more pleasure they get from reading, the more likely they are to read!
These are all great reasons to follow the doctors’ orders: read regularly to babies and children and keep giving them books!