It is never too early to start reading to your child. Whether your child is 10 days or 10 years old, reading aloud is one of the most beneficial yet simple and affordable bonding activities you can do together.
Reading aloud teaches your child about communication and introduces new words, emotions and ideas. Even better—there is no right or wrong way to do it. You don’t need to be an award-winning actor and you don’t need any special qualifications.
Feel free to only read a page at a time or to not follow the text exactly and point out interesting pictures e.g., “That cat looks just like ours!” “Where is the blue square?” “That girl looks sad,” etc.
Your child may not want to sit and listen attentively, especially if she is under 2. This is fine—let her be involved by looking, pointing, touching, and when older, asking and answering questions. Don’t read for too long—little and often is best.
It may sound basic, but don’t forget books are portable. They aren’t just for bedtime and can be read anywhere, e.g., on the train or waiting at your healthcare provider’s office.
Feel silly reading to a baby? You don’t need to as even babies who cannot talk yet can understand many of the words adults say. At the very least, she will just enjoy the sound of your voice and the quality time spent with you.
Textured and pop up books are great for babies and simple, repetitive and rhyming books are best for toddlers. After that, your child will point out what she likes, whether it is the complete history of bugs or wild adventure stories.
There are countless exceptional children’s books out there from fairy tales and nursery rhymes right through to today’s latest bestsellers. Here are a few irresistable picks:
African Animals ABC
Philippa-Alys Browne, Barefoot Books
This is a fantastically vibrant book with thick, easy-to-turn pages. Each animal is introduced with an action (“antbear naps, bushbaby blinks”), making it great for ages 0-5. The great range of animals make for plenty of conversation opportunities while reading and the beautiful illustrations are inspiring for adult and child readers alike.
The Snail and the Whale
Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, PanMacmillan
From the author and illustrator of the ever popular The Gruffalo, comes this delightful tale for readers aged from 2 years up. This is a rhyming story about a snail with a longing for adventure with heart-warming universal themes of friendship and belonging.
The Very Busy Spider
Eric Carle, Puffin Books
This is a children’s classic from the author and illustrator of the hugely popular The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A spider starts to build a web that you can follow with your fingers as it is raised off the page of the book. This book’s tactile element appeals to all, but especially to busy little fingers!
- Join a local library for a range of books and ask if they have a story time: It is a great way for you both to enjoy reading and to meet other families who do too. Find your local library at publiclibraries.com.
- Accept that baby books are to be enjoyed and won’t last forever: They will be drooled on at the very least!
- The story doesn’t have to end after reading time: You can encourage your child to draw events from the book, sing related songs or even cook any food mentioned in the book together.
- Bilingual books are especially useful for those who do not speak English as a first language.
- If you have more than 1 child, try to spend time alone reading books with each of them, especially if they are more than 2 years apart.
- Children’s Book Week is May 2-8 this year: Check out events happening nearby at bookweekonline.com.