Reading with newborns
Start reading to your baby as early as you can. In the words of Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, "Begin reading to children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier and better it is."
In Practice: our read-aloud experience with our new bookworm.
I'm pleased to announce that baby BOY bookworm has arrived, and I'm super excited to be reading to a newborn again. Although, I must admit, finding time to squeeze in a story is a little more difficult with two kids. In fact, after my first full day on my own with my two little bookworms, I was fairly certain I may never eat, shower, or sleep again — let alone read or blog.
But, after giving myself "a break" for the first month of baby boy bookworm's life, I've now made reading to my new bookworm a priority, right up there with eating, sleeping and showering.
Because I know that reading to my baby boy baby from the moment he is born is extremely important and beneficial to his development.
Reading to him gives us time to cuddle and bond, and forming emotional attachments early in life is an essential piece of the learning process. It also aids his language development — hearing language is the best way to learn it! Reading also boosts memory; when a baby hears the same book over and over again, he'll begin to recognize and remember it. Story time can also serve as a cue for your baby. If you read books at the same time each day, for instance before bed time, a baby will start to anticipate what comes next.
So that's the why but what about the...
Well, for us, I try to pick a time when he's well fed, rested and pretty alert. We only read one or two short "baby books" (more about good books in a minute), and I don't try to make a lesson out of it like I do with my 3 year old — he has lots of time to learn numbers, colors and letters! I try to make the experience fun and pleasurable by varying my facial expressions or intonation. And, if he seems disinterested (looks away, starts to cry, or seems upset) then I end our little story time early and try again another time. Sometimes I put baby boy bookworm on his belly too for tummy time while I am reading to him. Other times, I hold the book close to him while he's lying on his back, or big sis does the same.
Last but not least: what do we read?
The great thing about having a newborn is that I can read anything to him — a novel, the newspaper, the comics or poetry. Of course, we read books especially made for babies too! My favorites are from Tana Hoban, Sandra Boynton and Sandra Magsamen. Newborns especially like books with bold colors and lots of contrast, books with pictures of faces or other babies and books with a nice rhythm (think books you can sing or stories that rhyme). For more information on recommendations of what to read to a newborn, check out a post I wrote awhile back on Getting Started With the Littlest Learner: Tips for Reading with Newborns.
Marissa Kiepert Truong, PhD is a Chester County, PA mom and early education consultant. This post is adapted from her blog Land of Once Upon a Time.