It’s great to read to your baby right from the start. You don’t have to wait until your child starts talking. Even from early infancy, reading to babies teaches them to recognize the sounds and rhythm of language and to feel that cuddling with you and reading books is comforting and fun.
Reading is also a great way for fathers, grandparents, and older siblings to bond with the baby. Studies show that children who are routinely read to from a young age develop improved language skills and increased interest in reading, which helps improve their readiness for school. Try to make reading part of your daily routine with your baby. You can start out reading for a few minutes at a time, and extend to longer reading sessions as your child grows older and develops a longer attention span. Find a comfortable place to read and turn off other distractions such as the television or radio. Make the story come alive by using different voices for different characters, and even acting out parts of the story.
Children can be interested in different types of books depending on their age, development, temperament, and life experiences. Babies like books with interesting things to look at and touch; toddlers also like books that make noises and have fold-out sections they can lift to reveal hidden surprises; and pre-schoolers appreciate books with more elaborate pictures, rhymes, funny words, and interesting stories. Children may be enthralled with books about animals, trucks, princesses, baseball players, or children like themselves. Try out different books with your child to see what he enjoys. There are the time-honoured favourites like Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat series as well as many new books. Check out your local library, bookstores, and friends’ bookshelves.