Books are awesome! But do you ever wonder why people read to babies? Or why doing so is important? Even having books around for babies to play with is great for their development. I want to give a couple of reasons why below.
This is stuff that I remember from the early childhood literacy class I took while working on my Elementary Education degree. If any of this sounds incorrect (or if there’s updated research on the subject) I’d love to know – send me the sources so I can keep up to date. 🙂
- Reading to babies (and children) help them to understand that books contain information. Unlike any other object, books can carry many different meanings. Their rattle makes noise and provides entertainment, their blanket is soft and provides comfort, their bottle contains food, which quenches hunger. But books can be about colors or numbers or shapes or animals or so many other different things. Reading to them even from a young age can help them grasp this concept. We read so often for information and understanding this is a big step in learning to read. (As they get older they’ll start to tell stories of their own, learning concepts such as beginning-middle-end.)
- Reading to babies also helps them know the direction in which to read. For many countries/languages this means left to right, up to down, and front to back. So when you see a baby pick up a book and hold it upside-down, just remember that even in that moment, they are learning how to read.
- Exposure to pretty much anything as an infant helps them with visual development. So helping them learn to focus on pictures or words in books definitely can’t hurt. 🙂
- Reading to them can help them develop a joy for reading. Since reading is pretty crucial in a school career and then is used constantly in many actual careers, it’s important to get them off to a good start! If it’s something they enjoy, it’ll be something they spend more time doing. And the more practice they get, the better they will be at it. This will help with reading speed, comprehension, vocabulary, and so much more.
- Reading helps them develop language skills. This includes vocabulary, but also includes intonation and the different phonemes (sounds) required for their specific language. The more they are talked to and read to, the more they are going to learn.
Did I miss anything? Or is there anything you’d like to add? Let me know!