We all want our children to enjoy reading, but figuring out how to make reading a part of your child’s life can be a challenge. The most important thing you can do is start reading with your child early. Make reading a part of your daily routine from the day your child is born. Even if he is too young to appreciate books for the first couple of months, you’ll be integrating them into your lives. Plus, your child will enjoy hearing your voice even if he doesn’t understand that you’re reading to him.
Early on, try soothing books, like the classic Goodnight Moon. Hold your baby, and use a calm voice as you read to her. This can help you make books part of your baby’s bedtime ritual.
As your baby becomes more aware of her environment, you can begin to select books with multiple characters and fun pictures, like Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham or Mo Willems’ Pigeon books. Use different voices as you read to your baby, and talk to her about what you see in the pictures. Continue to hold your baby as you read to her, or try lying down on your tummies as you read. Books can be a great way to keep your child engaged during tummy time!
Board books are great once your baby begins reaching and grabbing. Allow your baby to enjoy the book as a physical object. Let her explore the book, play with the pages, and even put the book in her mouth! Babies love grabbing at bright pictures, and love books that include a tactile element, like a puppet or patches of cloth. My son loves Pat the Bunny and Little Crab.
Don’t feel pressured to finish a book just because you’ve started it; clearly your baby isn’t dying to see what happens next if she starts fussing while you’re reading to her. Set the book aside and continue it later, or even put it away and choose another book next time. Reading to your baby, even for just a couple of minutes, has a real impact on her, so don’t worry if you have to stop halfway through a story.
Set the goal of reading to your baby two or three times a day, and be sure to make the bedtime story a cornerstone of your day together. If you continue this tradition throughout your baby’s childhood, talk to your child about books, and read for pleasure in front of your child, you’ll be sure to have a lifelong reader on your hands!