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Reading to Infants (II)

Dear Debi,
I am a grandmother and would like to start reading to my 6-month-old grandson. Is it too early and will he understand what Iím reading to him?
Joan , Temple City, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Start reading to infants at or before birth
  • Babies learn language through intonations, toddlers learn vocabulary
  • Make reading to a baby a special part of every day
Expert Advice
Susan Baxter
Susan Baxter
Early Childhood Education Instructor, El Camino Community College
Itís never too early to introduce language to a child. From the day theyíre born, it will only enrich language development.

A baby may not understand what youíre reading, but the whole idea is about the relationship thatís established. Itís the cuddling time and hearing the parentís voice Ė hearing the rhythm and rhyme of the voice, the touch and feel and smell of the book, the exploration of what a book is and the introduction of language.

You should read to kids from infancy on up because it supports language development, listening skills, speaking skills and introduction to text. It also demonstrates to the child how to use a book. But the book part isnít as important as the story part. You can also do oral storytelling, which doesnít have to come from a book. The idea that you canít do language development without a book isnít true. Infants can have that language rich experience with oral story telling.

Talk to an infant constantly so that their environment is language rich. Make sure to dialogue with them at all times. Show them that youíre constantly engaging them in their language. Invest in 2 or 3 nice board books with pictures - not cartoons. And some books to play and read while on the bath.

But the most important kind of book, is the interaction that a parent or child care provider. Itís important to let parents know they donít have to read everything word for word. Infants arenít going to be patient for that. .

Toddlers learn vocabulary & language skills everywhere: at the store reading labels, in the car reading signs and at home, verbally labeling. Remember to tell toddlers what they are playing with or what theyíre looking at. This helps the child develop connections with their world and build vocabulary. Teaching a child to communicate is a valuable gift.

Have developmentally appropriate booksósoft, bright colored books that infants can grasp and chew on
Child Care provider Comments
Child care provider for 4 years
I love reading to infants because I believe it gives them an advantage in speech and later on in learning how to read and write. At 2 months of age, I begin showing them pictures. I always use age-appropriate books with children. I incorporate books into a child's life long before we begin the reading process. I leave them in area where the babies can play with them and get familiar with them before we begin to read. Around 10 months I begin to point at pictures in a book and say the word.
Family child care provider for 5 years
Cultural stories and fairytales are good to read to children. As they get older, you can introduce soft books that they can touch. Itís all done through a personal relationship, not a structured reading such as with the older kids. You can just know a story and talk to them about it.
Clarissa August
Clarissa August
Family child care provider for 21 years
I started reading to my grandkids when they were first born. With my own kids, I read to them in the womb. Generally I will hold the infants, read them the story and make sure my voice pitch changes when things happen in the story. I like to make it exciting for them. They pay attention when your voice changes and helps keep them interested. They get excited and snuggle with you.

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Topic: Early Learning Areas
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