Reading to infants and toddlers is important to literacy development. You can begin reading to your infant as soon as you begin talking to him or her. Reading aloud will help your child develop the language and listening skills necessary to begin a lifelong love of language and the printed word.
At 3 or 4 months, hold your infant and read books with rhythmic language and brightly colored, simple pictures.
- In a few months, add books that have pictures your infant will recognize.
- Read from cloth and board books that your infant can hold and touch.
- Be dramatic. Use different voices; make faces; and feel free to wiggle, bounce, and sing to engage your infant.
From the age of 2 to 5, children can turn the pages in a book and follow the pictures, repeat the words they have heard you read, follow the story, and “read” on their own.
- Be dramatic and read often, varying the length to accommodate your child’s interest.
- Involve your child by talking about the book while reading.
- Sound out some words and play with sounds.
- Have conversations about the book that you read last or will read tomorrow.
Five- and six-year-olds can begin the ritual with books they can read or almost read. Extend the bedtime hour as children get older so that they believe the reading period is an extra gift of time.
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