Making the most of books and babies
There’s a lot of information in the media and parenting resources about introducing books early to babies. It’s for a good reason!
Why should we start books for babies?
Language: You are not only teaching your child about books and reading in these interactions. You’re also rapidly building their vocabulary, their understanding of the world and their ability to link things together. As an example, images of ducks can vary so much, and they’re often completely different to what a real duck looks like! That’s why we show children lots of different examples of things.
They also learn to categorise, such as
‘water animals’ and ‘farm animals’ and even ‘food’ compared to ‘clothes’.
Pre-Literacy skills. These are the skills that children need before they can learn to read and write. Firstly, let's be clear on what they're not. We're not talking about flash cards or practicing "A says a..a...a". Early Pre-Literacy skills that babies are learning about during shared book reading include:
o Knowing which way to hold the book o Knowing we turn pages from the right o Knowing there’s a start and a finish o Knowing we read sentences from the left to right o Knowing we read from the top to bottom of the pageo Knowing that words are different to the pictures
o Learning that words go together to make sentences when we talk
Making the most of your book time together
Here are some tips on keeping babies engaged with books, and how to make the most out of these opportunities.
o Point to pictures as you name them
o Encourage them to ‘turn the page’. Say ‘turn the page’ every time you turn the page, then gently help them to turn the page. In no time at all, they’ll start doing this independently!
o Use short sentences, and repeat keywords. For example: “Duck. The duck is in the water. Duck. Quack quack says the duck.”
o Use actions where you can. Use one hand to show a bird’s wing flapping, a tail wagging, or a bee buzzing around! The bee can land on different parts of their body as you name them, and often elicit precious giggles. Your knee or lap can become the horse with some ‘giddy-up!’ action.
o Show affection with little kisses, gentle squeezes (cuddles) or sneaky raspberries to go with your actions!
o Trace your finger along the words as you read them, then point to the picture that matches.
o Respond to your baby’s points, sounds and eye gaze. What are they trying to communicate? You can guess if you need to, and respond so they know you are listening. This will encourage further attempts at communicating with you.
Most importantly, keep it fun!
If you need to do one quick book at a time to start with, that’s okay! Books in baby’s bedtime routine are a great way to get some quality book time together.
- Teagan Pease