If there is one thing I wish I could have done when I was younger is to pick up a healthy reading habit. I was determined to give my son a healthy reading habit and what better way to do than to role model?
Research by Sinclair et al (1) has shown that it is never too early to start reading to your child. Reading habits established in the first year of life help establish positive reading routines that will persist throughout childhood. In fact, I started reading a book out loud every night when I was pregnant. Here are the reasons why I continued this reading culture despite feeling exhausted at the end of the day.
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. —Emilie Buchwald
1. Bonding time
d bond. There should be no distractions, just you and the baby with a book. It will be best to cuddle up with baby while reading to him/ her. The physical intimacy and soothing voice of the parent will make this into a quality one-to-one activity.
A study by Jimenez et al (2) has also shown that shared reading contributes to an important aspect of the parent-child relationship and associated to less harsh parenting and enhanced child behaviours.
2. Encourage creative and imaginative mind
Even though infants might not understand what you are reading, using varying voices and expressive tones allow children to imagine themselves as characters in the story books. This encourages creative and imaginative thinking, which is the first step to having innovative and problem solving skills in the future.
3. Language skills: grammar and vocabulary
There is no doubt that reading improves our language skills. Reading early not only establishes a healthy reading habit, studies have also shown that children who were read to as newborns have a larger vocabulary and more advanced mathematical skills than other kids their age. Another research has shown that children who are read to are exposed to an estimated 78 000 words each day, and over the span of 5 years before kindergarten entry, they hear a cumulative 1.4 million more words than children who are never read to (3).
4. Build social and emotional skills
Reading not only improves focus in academics but is also essential to building social skills. Reading allows the reader to step inside another’s mind, to experience their feelings and understand their thoughts. This is crucial in developing the ability to empathise with other people.
5. Reading is fun!
The advantage of reading to infants is that you can choose any books you would like to read and they would probably have no objections. You can pick your favourite book, be it an investment book or a biography. Isn’t it fun to have some “me time” reading your favourite book while still physically with your child?