The earlier, the better!
1. It’s never too early to start reading to your child.
Babies enjoy touching and looking at books and their wonderful, colourful illustrations. Chewing on them is fun, too! Make it a bedtime routine. At our home, after bath time, we’d cuddle on the bed in our pyjamas and read several beloved books over and over again. Children want to hear the same story many times over and that’s great! As long as your child wants to hear it, keep reading it. He or she is still getting something out of it.
2. Board books are perfect to begin with.
They’re easy to hold and durable. You can show your baby the pictures and read the very simple words while baby is sitting in her little chair, or on your lap, or lying on the bed. If you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, keep your little one entertained with some board books. One of my favourite ones is Moo Baa, La, La, La by Sandra Boynton.
3. Have lots of books in the house.
Buy them from children’s book stores, second-hand books stores, thrift shops, ask for hand-me-down books from friends and family, or take them out of the library for free. Get to know the children’s books librarian at your local library and ask for advice. Take your child to the library for free story time. If English is not your first language, you can read books in your mother tongue to your child, too. That’s very important. Your local library has children’s books in different languages. Go to my Books page for lists of recommended picture books.
4. Show your child that you value books and reading.
Let your children see you reading books, cook books, magazines, newspapers…even things on the computer.
5. Expose your child to the language of books.
“What big ears you have!” said Little Red Riding Hood. “Once upon a time…” The language of books is not the same as spoken language. It’s not the kind of language we use in casual conversation day-to-day. It’s important for your child to hear the language of books because it’ll help your child understand and predict what words might come next when he or she begins to read. And prediction is a very powerful reading tool!
6. Be sensitive to your child’s attention span.
When they’re very young, infants and toddlers, you might spend only 5 or 10 minutes with a book or two. That’s okay! You want them to enjoy the time. Don’t force it. If they don’t show any interest at first, try again another time. Keep trying. When they’re a bit older, you can spend 15 minutes with some books. By the time they’re in kindergarten, you’ll be able to spend even longer on a book or books, but each child is different. Go with the flow.
“If you never did
These things are fun
and fun is good.”