In the first post of the series we spoke about why it is important to get our babies introduced to books as early as possible, in the womb itself in fact. Here’s some more ideas on how you can get your baby fall in love with reading.
That obviously means that you as a parent have to be the one who reads to them.
Get your baby to fall in love with reading
Since we are talking about not merely giving our babies the skill of being able to read but getting them to falling in love with reading, then how you read to your baby becomes important.
How do I read to my baby?
The first thing is to make sure both you and your baby are comfortable, because neither of you will enjoy yourselves if you are not. That would mean, cuddle up with your little one. Put him or her on your lap, next to your heart; open the book in front of her. This is important because it connects books to you in baby’s mind. Cuddled like that your baby can hear not only your voice as you read, but also your heartbeat and that is one of the most comforting sounds to her.
So while he is cuddled next to your heart, your arms around him, listening to your heartbeat, listening to your voice talking to him about magic and wonder and the world, and he is feeling so loved and secure, how do you think reading connects in his mind? Is it now something that is scary, that has to do with lessons, that has to do with strict teachers or is reading something that is forever going to be associated in her mind with love, with comfort, with mamma and papa and feeling good?
If you have read the previous post, I am going to take it as a given that you have picked up books that are bright, with lots of big colourful pictures and large print. It really doesn’t matter whether they are story books or books that impart knowledge. What is important is the “feeling” that the books invoke in a child.
I remember I used to read out from the Time Life series to my grand niece when she was just a few months old. The question on the page was, “Can all animals swim?”. And there was this picture of all the animals in a swimming pool happily swimming, except for the gorilla standing out wearing a life jacket and looking at the pool wistfully.
So more than reading here, I used to talk about the picture. I would point to the tiger and say, “See the tiger. He is swimming. And he says, ‘ROAR! I love to swim. It is soooo cool in the water.’” Or I would point to the cat and say, “Meow! I can swim but I don’t like to! I don’t like the water much!”
Pointing to the gorilla I would growl and say sadly, “All my friends are having fun swimming. But I can’t swim. I have to learn how to! Will you teach me?”
I would change my voice for every animal and the little one would look at me with eyes wide with wonder!
Soon during our reading times, I just had to just name the animal, and her eyes would go to the right animal on the page. This was when she was too young to even point at things, forget about being able to speak!
So as you read to your baby, change your voice, change your tone; become the characters in the book. Become a small child; become a giant; become a tiger and elephant and watch the wonder on your child’s face.
“But Sunita”, you might say, “It’s easy to say that you should do all that. But I am no good acting. I don’t know how to change my voice. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.” (Oh yeah, I have had parents telling me this.)
For goodness sake who is there to listen to you? Only your baby! And believe me she thinks you are the best thing ever happened in the world! She is not going to judge you!
Throw out the ego. Become a kid again and just be there in the moment with your child. Just think of your baby and what he is getting out of this rather than how much of a fool you think you appear to be. Because believe me, as you keep doing this, you will lose your inhibitions and will start to enjoy yourself as much as baby does and the adoring looks of a kid who thinks their mom or dad is absolutely the greatest, is the best reward ever!