Updated: Apr 8
Children are never too young to be exposed to books and reading. Right from the start, begin reading aloud to your newborn, listen to books, and begin a collection that your child can access as soon as they are mobile. Remember, the books you begin reading aloud with do not necessarily need to be children’s books. Read what you are reading for yourself to your baby. The key is exposing them to the language and cadence, not necessarily the content. My husband would read his tech manuals to his infant son. He effectively killed two birds with one stone: reading to his son while studying at the same time, and so can you.
*Note: While content is not important in the first few months, I strongly recommend against reading content aloud that you wouldn’t share with a young child. For example, save Stephen King and Harlequin novels for a much later time.
Not Your Mother’s Board Books
Board books are hard, cardboard books designed to be used by infants and young children who would eat and rip pages of regular books. The durable cardboard stands up to teething, tossing, and general toddler treatment. It used to be that board books were limited to a few very simple topics. Now, board book options are endless! From classic picture books to abridged versions of timeless literature (think Jane Austen). Create a space in the area your child spends most of their time playing. Perhaps it is in their bedroom or a playroom, or simply a space in the living room. Place a basket of books for your child to access on their own. As your baby matures and begins to sit up, crawl, and walk, the titles in the basket can grow. Be prepared for your child’s collection to be chewed, drooled on, and dirtied, in addition to being read by them. They really aren’t meant to last indefinitely, just until the child is mature enough to handle paper-paged books, or about 3 years old on average.
Ideally, reading aloud to your baby should be a daily occurrence. Some babies will calmly listen to an entire story. Others will fuss and squirm. Depending on their age and temperament, you could sit and hold them or place them on the floor or bed while you read, as long as they are content. Bedtimes, mealtimes, and riding in the car are ideal reading times. If you are the one driving, employ audio books. Your local library, Audible, and others, offer a wide variety of audio books, even children’s picture books.
Remember, it may not always appear that your little one is interested in your story, however, they are still quite young. Developing a lifelong lover of reading takes time. By reading to your baby, you are setting the stage and building a strong foundation.