Apr 02 , 2020
Literacy development is a crucial yet sometimes overlooked part of parenting. Many parents have fallen into the trap of entertaining their kids by parking them in front of a television, computer, or smartphone screen for way too long.
There’s nothing wrong with spending some quality time with your children using convenient technology, but this should always be done in healthy moderation. Since babies who are younger than 18 months don’t have the cognitive skills to comprehend abstract symbols on TV or the internet, they won’t be able to build much-needed listening and speaking skills. In other words, babies won’t have much to learn when all they do is sit in front of a screen all day.
Language and speech development in early childhood is a matter of learning to imitate and piece together all kinds of sounds and words. Even though babies aren’t exactly capable of carrying conversations, they can still learn a lot when they interact with the world around them and listen to the voices of their beloved caregivers.
Reading aloud is one of the best ways to enhance your child’s early literacy skills. Though young babies might not be able to ask questions or review a story, they can still respond and learn in many meaningful ways. In fact, babies can even develop preferences for certain books, bright colors, and familiar pictures.
1. It Builds Early Readers
When babies are read to by their parents, they become better equipped with the skills needed for productive learning and reading. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), reading to kids at an early age enriches their vocabulary and syntax. In other words, reading aloud helps babies learn a wide range of vocabulary words and enhances their skills in building longer, more complex sentences. By the time these babies grow old enough to attend pre-school, they become better at learning language and become more interested in reading at an early age.
Kids who become proficient in reading early can grow to accomplish crucial tasks in and out of school. Babies who have been made into early readers through the conscious efforts of their parents won’t have much trouble answering critical questions on a test or understanding documents like tax and insurance forms when they’re older.
2. It Helps You Bond Better
Like I said earlier, babies learn more when they get to touch things and move around. Your baby might not bond much with you when all they do is sit in front of a screen without doing anything. If you really want to build a nurturing and meaningful relationship with your child, you should definitely try reading aloud to them when you can.
Reading aloud has been proven to build crucial social-emotional skills in babies. The more you interact and bond with your child through reading, the better they become at trusting people and responding to affection. Babies can learn how to respond to certain sounds and actions when you act out different characters or make all sorts of noises while reading to them. They can also learn how to love cuddles and hugs when they sit in your lap while you read to them.
Babies who get to enjoy healthy socio-emotional skills early in their life will have an easier time coping with relationships and social interactions when they’re older. Reading aloud to your little one will definitely ensure that they build a healthy love not only for you but also for other people throughout their life.
3. It Helps With Language Learning
Phonological awareness—that is, the comprehension and awareness of different syllables and sounds—is absolutely crucial to learning how to read. Young kids might not be able to clearly pronounce words like “astronaut” or “meteor” on their first few tries, but they can and do become better at it when they listen a lot to how they are sounded out.
Listening to repetition, rhyme, and rhythm in books helps babies develop the networks in their brains needed to learn and master language. When kids are equipped with proper auditory and language networks, they become better at learning and mastering many different words, sounds, sentences, and all forms of written and oral speech. Many young kids might give up at trying to pronounce or read a word like “Onomatopoeia”, but a child who has been read to at a young age won’t have trouble splitting the word into different sounds and pronouncing it with ease.
What Books Should I Read?
Let’s forget all those horror stories of parents reading “The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar” over and over again. Trust me, your little one won’t like always having to listen to the same boring story either.
There are a lot of developmentally-appropriate and fun books that you and your baby can enjoy. Nowadays, it’s really easy to find all sorts of large and small books featuring popular characters and awesome stories. Here’s a guide to choosing the best books for your little one.
At this stage, your baby will learn to bond and appreciate your voice and touch when you read aloud to him or her. Babies less than 6 months old might not be able to understand bright pictures or stories just yet, but they can become curious enough to learn more about a book using their physical senses—in other words, by mouthing, holding, and pinching any book they come across.
You’re going to need large and sturdy board, vinyl, or cloth books that can withstand a lot of punishment from baby fingers, mouths, and hands. It’s also important to pick books with a lot of bright colors and pictures, as well as rhyming and repeated text.
Babies will still want to learn more about a book using their physical senses at this stage. They’ll also be able to better comprehend and recognize some of their favorite stories and pictures. Your baby will cheer with glee at hearing their favorite bedtime tale or laugh and giggle at drawings of their favorite superheroes.
The best books you can use at this stage are board books with large pictures, drawings, and colors. Your baby will love reaching out and touching some of their favorite illustrations or characters, so don’t be afraid to find bigger books! You’ll also want to stick to simple stories that babies will easily understand and appreciate.
You’ll want to continue using board books even after 9 months. Now, babies will have certain preferences and want to hear their favorite stories from time to time. If your baby can’t get enough of a certain Parable or fairy tale, you’ll probably have to read it to them more than a few times. At around 12 months, you can test your child’s comprehension skills by asking simple questions such as “Where’s the red ball?” Do also read books that have a lot of rhythmic and rhyming phrases since they can serve as fun ways to build listening and speaking skills.