What Can Parents Do to Help Babies Learn to Read?

By Stacey Chaloux
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Although your baby won't be reading words for a few more years, you can instill a love of books and of reading at a very young age. Just by having a regular reading time with your baby, you are putting her on a path to becoming a reader. According to child development experts at the Kids Health website, reading with your little one teaches her about communication, gives her information about the world around her and builds listening skills, as well as vocabulary. These are the building blocks of a successful reader, so she will be ready when it is time to learn to read.

Develop a Routine

According to WETA Television's Reading Rockets website, routines help a baby feel secure and able to predict what will happen next, an important skill he will use later in reading. Develop a routine that includes reading every day, perhaps before a nap time or bedtime. It can relax your baby as well as help him know it's time to sleep. Reading together will help your baby connect reading with that warm, snuggly feeling of being close to you and hearing your voice, building confidence and a love of books.

Rhymes and Repetition

The PBS Parents website recommends reciting nursery rhymes and singing songs to your baby when she's at a very young age. The rhythmic sound can help soothe your baby and teaches her the sounds of language. Repetition also helps babies learn and strengthen their language development, so it is okay to read the same books over and over. If your baby has a favorite book or song, follow her lead and allow her to choose it repeatedly. According to the Scholastic site, repetition and familiarity are soothing to your baby and help her feel secure and confident.

Make it Fun

Babies don't have long attention spans, so try to engage your baby in reading by using an expressive voice as you read. Change your pitch, use different voices for different characters, add in animal sounds or bounce your baby to the rhythm of the words. Your baby will be more interested in looking at the pictures, so don't worry about following the story exactly. Take time to point to and talk about the pictures and allow your little one to turn the pages when he's ready to move on.

Baby-Friendly Books

When babies are newborns, they don't have a real idea of what you are reading, so it is just as beneficial to read aloud your favorite reading material, like the newspaper or your current novel, according to the Scholastic website. As your baby becomes more interested in looking at books, choose ones with simple, bold pictures to grab her attention. The PBS Parents site recommends finding sturdy books made of vinyl, cloth or cardboard, making it easier for her to turn the page and more durable for when she decides to chew on them. Books that include interactive elements, such as flaps that lift, mirrors or different textures to feel, will keep your baby interested. Keep her books within reach so she can choose to read them at any time during the day.

About the Author

Stacey Chaloux is an educator who has taught in both regular and special education early childhood classrooms, as well as served as a parent educator, teaching parents how to be their child's best first teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education from Graceland University.