My husband and I have been reading books to our daughter since she was about 4 months old. That’s the time when she could clearly see us and got more responsive to us. For sure she wasn’t paying attention at first. We could even hardly finish a book. But we read to her anyway. George has been reading to her every night as part of her bedtime routine and I do during her activity time in the morning or in the afternoon. Now at 17 months, she would ask us to read for her all her favorite books. Every morning when she wakes up, she would go through her books looking so serious or amused while flipping the pages. It’s so funny and remarkable to behold. I can’t believe how much she loves books nowadays. She even knows the title of her favorite books.
I don’t really remember being read to when I was little except the time when my father taught me how to in grade 1, probably because my parents couldn’t afford to buy children’s books at the time. Or they just didn’t know then its importance. Lucky for us reading to infants is highly promoted here in Bermuda. In fact, there’s a public youth library here where parents can register for free and borrow children’s or parenting books for up to 3 weeks. There’s also what they call “book babies” every Thursday and Saturday in the library. It’s a fun reading/ singing/ playing time for children 6 months and above.
Also, children’s books are pretty much accessible here. One can buy good quality second hand books for only a quarter (25cents) or 10 Philippine pesos. So, when I had Alyanna, I got fascinated with all the colorful childrens books that I kept on buying whatever good book I can find for her. Another cool thing is that they also have annual reading festival where a group called Bermuda Book Club gives away free books to children apart from some exciting bouncy castles, free popcorn, fun games and more.
Many parents have overlooked the importance of reading to their babies. One might say, “Why bother read when the baby still won’t understand? Just wait until he/ she’s in school”. Let me tell you, there are many rewards of reading to your little one.
Here are some of the reasons why you should read to your little bunny.
Studies reveal that kids who have been read to can talk earlier than those children who have not. Reading aloud is as important as talking or singing to your baby. It helps improve your baby’s listening skill through the sound of your voice and enhances your baby’s vocabulary, which are essential in communication. And while children can learn your native language through talking or interactions with you, he/she can be introduced to other languages like English through reading. No wonder Alyanna knows a lot of words and can even say short sentences and phrases before she’s 18 months both in Bisaya (our native dialect) and English. On her 15th month checkup, her pedia even mentioned that she has the vocabulary of a 2 year old. Proud momma here. (Wink wink)
Unlike other animals, humans, being the highest form in the animal kingdom have the most highly developed brain, capable to learn the ways and means of living through reading. Exposing kids to books at an early age inspires them to read on their own and makes them love books. It’s also a great way to introduce to infants the different concepts around us like numbers, shapes, colors, and nature and even the idea of sharing, loving, respect, etc. Furthermore, Interactive reading proves to have strong positive effects on other aspects of development.
Our baby learned alphabet at 15 months. We neither force nor intentionally taught her the letters. I believe it was the result of constantly reading to her the alphabet book. My husband and I were both surprised when she could already identify the letters and soon enough, learned to say them clearly. Now she’s starting to be familiar with numbers, colors and shapes. Whenever Yanna sees letters or numbers whether they are on shirt prints, house or building numbers, bike speedometers, clocks – she will try and attempt to read them. We’re confident that as long as we are consistent and show to her that reading is part of life, we know that she will carry her love for reading and books until she grows up. It will be her best tool in learning the world and be able to succeed in life.
More than the intellectual and developmental benefits, the most important reward for me is the bond we create with our little one through reading. It has become the best bonding opportunity for my husband and my baby since George can’t breastfeed. The best way is to hold the baby on your lap and make the reading session more entertaining by cuddling and playing at the same time. It’s a priceless moment seeing my husband and my baby having fun while being so engaged with her favorite books.
If you haven’t done it yet, I encourage you to allot at least 20 minutes of your day reading to your munchkin. It will greatly contribute to your child’s well-being. It shows the baby that she’s loved because you make time for her thereby improving self-esteem and filling her love tank.
Read to your baby not because you want him to be genius or smart. Do it out of LOVE. Cherish the moment and take advantage of the time with your baby when YOU are still the main source of influence in his/her life – not the society, not her friends, teachers, schools or anybody else. The rewards are far greater than you expect. As Rosemary Wells puts it. “Reading to your little one is just like putting gold coins in the bank. It will pay you back tenfold. Your daughter will learn, imagine, and be strong in herself. Your son will thrive, and give your love back forever”.
“Read to your bunny and soon your bunny will read to you.”~RW ~