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Reading Routine with Baby
Posted On 2 October 2018
It is important to set up a reading routine with baby early. It is too easy to put off for someday – and we all know that too often, someday never comes.
I have always loved to read; well, at least as far back as I can remember. (Although, I usually hated English class in school and all the texts we read in those classes. I always wondered – how can I love to read so much, and read so much on my own – yet, over 90% of what I read in school was boring for me? But that is, perhaps, a topic for another post!)
Of course a newborn cannot read or fully appreciate a good book read aloud – it is still worthwhile to read to them! Do not wait until they are older – start early and set the routine now.
Why establish a Reading Routine with Baby?
1. If you get in the habit now, it will be easier to set this as a family routine right from the beginning.
It is easy to think about what routines or traditions we want our new family to have. However, it is important to implement these! Do not wait until the baby is a little older, until things settle down at work, until … Instead, start to live out the family routine now. It will take time for this to become the normal routine, of course you may need to tweek it as time goes on – but start working on it now. Soon, it will be the normal everyday (or weekly) custom. The early you establish the reading routine with baby – the stronger the family custom will be.
2. What else will you do with them?
By reading, it gives you something constructive to do. Watching your baby is great. Holding your baby is fantastic. But, you do want to have other things to do with them. Having a reading routine with baby gives you something active to do with them. Their participation will be low in the beginning – but over time it will increase. Eventually, they will be reading to you!
3. It is vital for babies to hear you speak!
It is important for babies to hear voices (especially your voice!) so that they will learn speech. The more they hear – the faster they will understand language. This seems not to be limited to babies. Even children who are talked to/with/around will do much better in school and in life. The more talk the better. So even by hearing you talk, read, or converse with Mum, your baby is learning. (So watch your language.) The more your baby hears, the better off your baby will be.
That can be a lot of pressure! By reading a book, it gives you something to say to your baby. Of course, the repetition may be annoying to you (e.g., you will be reading the same pages over and over again) but it is not annoying to your baby! For them, it is as if they are hearing it for the first time, or they are comforted by the familiar words. And reading is even more effective than just talking.
4. Reading is an important life skill and a rewarding life-style
Many college students (and graduates) cannot read at an appropriate level. I fear this is only increasing, as everyone’s attention span is shortened (including mine, I admit to my dismay). Why read Homer’s Odyssey, when you can read a few Facebook posts or tweets instead?
If you can get your child into a reading routine from their babyhood – their adulthood will be improved. If your child grows up reading – they will have skills their peers lack. Think of that advantage!
Some people grow up and are active readers; others read only when they must. I submit that people who like to read, enjoy a whole world that is, unfortunately, closed off to those who do not read. By setting up a reading routine with baby, and maintaining that routine (with modifications as they grow) through their childhood, you are giving them the opportunity to be life-long readers.
5. Reading increases your vocabulary
The more a person reads, the better vocabulary they will develop. Generally, we only use a small percentage of the words we know. We all have an active vocabulary and a passive vocabulary – words we use and words we understand, but seldom use. If we want to use more words in our normal speaking – it is actually more effective to learn new words, than it is to try to use more of the words we already know. A person that reads frequently, has a much larger vocabulary than one who does not.
6. Reading unlocks the imagination
Imagination is important for children. But it is also important for adults!
When reading a story, one needs to use their imagination. When watching a film, no imagination is required. Especially in modern films.
At least classic films often left some things to the imagination, which, indeed, was more powerful. Consider Hitchcock’s famous shower scene – nothing was really shown. Just a knife, a screaming girl, and a drain with water and – it was black & white – so you needed to use your imagination to really see it was blood. Yet this scene was (and still is) so much more powerful that countless modern movies where everything is shown.
Also consider the movie version of any (good) book you have read. How does it compare? At best it was decent – highlighting some good parts of the book. But I have yet to see a movie that was equal to the book. (Have you? If so, comment below!)
7. Practice now to improve your Reading Aloud Skills
When you read to your child, you want to use change of tones, even change your voice for different characters. Of course, this is more important when they are older, and fully appreciate these finer points of story time. Unless you have read to children before, or are a natural at this (I am not), you will want to practice reading aloud! If you start when they are a baby, by the time they are old enough to distinguish the voices of different characters – you will be ready!
My Reading Routine with Baby
I try to get in the habit of reading to Tina frequently. However, I make sure that I read on Sundays.
I am normally home all day on Sunday. There is no excuse not to read a couple of books to her. This is a great Sunday routine.
Of course, our preferred venue is our rocking chair. I can hold her in one arm, and hold the book in the other. Some books are easier to turn pages than others – but these are the skills every Amazing Father needs to develop. And Tina loves to reach up and help.
Tina is at the age now, 6 months, that she is reaching and grabbing for everything. Some of our books are made of more kid-friendly material: thick cardboard-like pages. Of course ma
ny books, especially the older ones, have regular paper – so I try to be careful to keep them safe from inquiring hands and mouths.
Sometimes she is a little too antsy – she is starting to move constantly, no longer satisfied with just sitting still. So it is much easier to read when she is a little tired or at least relaxed.
One of the first things I purchased for her was a book! Since then, we have been sent several others – by my parents, my aunt & uncles, and even some friends/co-workers! Currently, we have more than enough to keep us busy. Depending on the book, and how calm Tina is, we will read one or two books at a time.