It is never too early to start reading.
We've seen some weird and wonderful actions by parents, but this one takes the biscuit. Imagine this situation, a mother and child walking past a book stall, the child asks to look at the books and the mother responds with "...you cannot read, why do you need to buy a book". If you don't know what is wrong with the statement then you really need to carry on reading this.
There is more to a book than words and pictures. Humans communicate by actions and tone of voice too and when you bring these into the fold then amazing things can happen. What to do next:
- Share stories from an early age
Babies may not understand but they love to listen to your voices tone, look at pictures and hold the book, A great time to be close to your baby. As they grow they may not understand the words but recognise that the words exist and what they look like and they have to start somewhere.
- Practice your tone
Are you excited, sad, grumpy or do the characters and animals of the story have funny voices. A monotone voice isn't exciting or interesting. You may not be a voice over artist but it's only you and your children, so give it a go.
- Cuddle up
You might be tired from the day so it is a perfect chance to take some meaningful time for both you and your child. It is quality time outside of the daily chores. This is perfect if you have a partner that works all day and this can be a nice bonding moment between them in the evening.
- Buy or loan different books
You might have that favourite book you read over and over again. This is one of the reasons we formed Baby Book Swop back in 2015, because books are expensive and the cheap ones often come in bundles or are the same regurgitated titles as the month before. Even so, our children are members of a library, they go and borrow books even though we own a book store.
A library allows you to both go out of the house and interact with other people. The child also get's a huge amount of enjoyment from this too. Library's often have events and regular sing along sessions you can meet other parents.
Tips for Reading
Psssst. It isn't actually about reading the words. Children benefit from engaging them with a story and have you ever thought why? Human's evolved to tell stories to each other, to pass on crucial information through sounds and pictures. Imagine an early human learning a unique hunting skill and not being able to pass on that tale, to teach the new generation about something very important. Stories are part of our make up and why we remember much more detail when it's delivered right. What can you do to get better at reading them:
A routine is "a sequence of actions regularly followed.", so something you do all the time. What a good idea! You both then expect books to be read and a good time to do this is during the bedtime routine, as it fit's in nicely with this routine too.
- Turn off those electronics
Something most people know, is that electronics are distracting. You might think, well it is just a moment and another moment and actually you miss out on a whole lot of interaction with your child. Try leaving it out of sight for 2 hours in the evening and you'll see a difference in yourself.
- Get cosy
Hold your child close or on your knee while you read, so they can see your face and the book. It might seem a little bit like a juggling act but well worth it.
- Tone and sound
Stories are about communication and if you are monotone then it isn't interesting, the child will be bored and book reading becomes a chore; task = read book as fast as possible. Use excited, sad tones to start with as they are the easiest and then bring in all the others in between, that human's use all the time. Animal sounds are one of the best and reading the word "ROOOOAR!" vs actually making the sound has no comparison; make the sound.
- Body language
Have you ever rolled your eyes? Raised eyebrows? Acted surprised? Think about all the movements human's do when communicating with each other. Break some of these out of the box and include them at appropriate points in the story.
Many of the above involve you as a parent doing the hard work. It is important to encourage discussion about the characters, what the animals are, what the colours are and anything else in the book. We've had our children pick up on keywords too that they remember; read the story again and they'll be saying it well before you read the words or even get to the right page.
We all like choice and feeling we are in control. Why is that? Well your child might want a certain story although a little bit of guidance goes a long way and prevents reading the same book over and over again; although there is nothing wrong with reading the same book.