We all know that reading with our children is a good thing, it leads to better vocabulary, imagination, social skills and concentration. What’s really important is for children to grow up loving books because children who read for pleasure tend to achieve better at school. Starting young can make a big difference and there are two things you need to help babies and toddlers love books, the right books and to share them in the right way.
Even the youngest baby can enjoy snuggling up on the sofa with a book that contains high contrast images, black and white works well but you can also try yellow or red with black, they will also particularly like looking at faces. For an older baby, books with moving parts help them to develop their fine motor skills and experiment with cause and effect.
For toddlers who have recently learnt to walk, it can be difficult to get them to sit still long enough to read a book so stick to fairly short ones and try to find things they’re interested in. If they love trains then there are some great Thomas the Tank Engine books that aren’t too long, these can also help with social skills as you can help them to identify what the engine is feeling by the expression on their face. If there is an animal they like try to find something where that animal is the main character.
The way you share books can also make a big difference, the most important thing is to keep it fun, don’t worry too much about reading every word. Young babies in particular need to be able touch (and chew!) the books so don’t worry if you don’t actually read that much.
When babies have recently learnt to crawl it’s great to keep some books at their level. This way they can choose when they’d like to read a book and may even have a look at a few on their own, giving you five minutes peace!
If your toddler doesn’t seem particularly keen to read then you can help them to engage with books by acting out some of the story. A simple way to do this is to pick a book with lots of animals in and each time a new animal appears you both (yes, you too) jump up and pretend to be the animal, making the sounds and doing some actions.
If you’d like to find out more about reading with your baby or toddler then come along to Tots Tales, the Baby and Toddler Book Club. We’re running some free classes in June and July ahead of our launch in September so visit our website www.totstales.co.uk to book.