Reading to babies from their earliest days gives them a head-start in life in so many ways.
It's also a lovely bonding experience and the earlier you start, the better!
The fact that newborn babies are capable of responding to books sometimes surprises parents but the evidence that reading to babies is important for their development is absolutely rock-solid.
So why is reading aloud to babies so important?
Reading aloud plays a vital role because it helps develop three essential pre-reading skills:
Of these three skills, phonological awareness is probably the most important and also the one that's most relevant to young babies.
It's an important and reliable predictor of a child’s later reading ability and it begins to develop at birth.
Many people think that learning to read is something that happens when their child starts school but learning to read actually starts much, much earlier than this.
In fact, the learning-to-read process starts at birth when babies start to tune in to the sounds and rhythms of spoken language.
There is a huge amount of evidence to show that reading aloud to children when they’re young plays a vital role in helping them acquire language and vocabulary.
Parents and other people who love the new baby begin talking to this new little person from the time he or she is born and reading aloud can begin straight away too.
And there's no need for any fancy, expensive learning-to-read programs!
Reading aloud comes naturally to some people but if you haven’t done it before it can feel a bit weird or even embarrassing. It’s something we usually don’t have any experience with until we have our own children so it can be hard to know how to begin.
Mem Fox’s fantastic little book Reading Magic is fun to read and is packed with practical tips and advice about how to read aloud.
I've also compiled some tips to help get you started here.
If your baby is ill or premature and has to spend time in hospital, you may like to read my page about how reading aloud can help.
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