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It’s pretty common knowledge that it’s important to read to children: reading is part of their curriculum in school, and as a parent, you’ll often be encouraged to read with your child at home. You can even make a day out of it and visit your local library – encouraging your child to read opens endless doors of possibilities. However, did you know that reading to your baby is important, too?
That’s right – a baby. A ‘goo-goo- ga-ga doesn’t have a clue what you’re saying’ baby. It might seem a little odd to read a book to a tiny little baby who can barely even see yet, but reading to your baby is not only a beautiful bonding experience, but it’s so beneficial for them, too.
With a very young baby, the bonding time whilst snuggled up reading a book is so important for both parent and baby. You can even take this further by having a skin to skin cuddle whilst reading, and many parents say a bedtime story is paramount in their bedtime routine for a good night’s sleep.
Reading to a baby also greatly aids their language skills – by reading a book, it is likely the child will hear a much more varied vocabulary than in every day life.
You can even use story time as a sensory activity – many books, like the “That’s not my”… series have tactile textures for baby to explore. Sensory activities are so important for a baby, so reading can also aid in developing the sense of touch.
Creating a routine by reading to a baby daily will benefit the child later in life. The Literacy Trust’s 2017/18 study concluded that ‘Children and young people who read daily are four times more likely to read above the level expected for their age compared with their peers who don’t read daily (22.3% vs 5.7%)’.
There is also the argument that reading to a baby directly affects their adult life – in fact, a US Study found a direct correlation between literacy skills and lifetime earnings: ‘for every year you read with your child before age 5, their average lifetime earnings will increase by $100,000. You give a $500,000 gift to your child from birth to age five by reading aloud for just 20 minutes a day.’ For further information about this study, In The Book have written an excellent article discussing this more thoroughly.
The benefits to reading to a baby are immense, so this is by no means an exhaustive discussion of the benefits.
Many people think you can only read to a child when they are old enough to understand the story, but like we have already discussed – reading to a baby has so many benefits, that the younger you start, the better! You can start reading to your baby at whatever age you feel comfortable and want to do so.
Yes! Reading to a baby during pregnancy is a lovely bonding experience for the whole family. It helps baby to recognise your family’s voices in utero and if you’re lucky enough, baby might even react to hearing a familiar voice telling a story with little kicks!
Your baby will enjoy books no matter how old they are – whether that’s because they enjoy the story itself or simply because they enjoy the cuddle and comfort of hearing your voice, it’s unparalleled.
There are so many books to choose from, it can sometimes be daunting knowing what books to buy for your baby. Young babies will enjoy listening to books with rhyme and rhythm. Julia Donaldson books like Room on The Broom are my favourite for this! All babies love singing, and reading nursery rhyme books are a great way to incorporate both reading and singing into your baby’s routine. Arthur loves his ‘My Book of Nursery Rhymes’ book from In The Book, which was sent to us as a PR sample. It’s personalised, so his name is not only on the front cover, but also hidden throughout the images within the nursery rhymes, meaning that it’s a book that will grow with him – it’ll turn into a fun treasure hunt style book when he is older!
Psst! For book recommendations that we love, check out my Amazon Storefront! I have a list of Baby and Toddler books which you can browse, and I keep this updated as regularly as I can when we discover new books we enjoy. I make a very small commission from my Amazon Storefront, so thank you for your support if you choose to purchase one of my recommendations via my storefront!
If you’ve got slightly older children that are in between the worlds of baby books and independent reading, you might like to check out these books for 4 year olds!
Don’t forget – it’s really important to have lots of diversity in the books you read to your babies and children. Mumernity has a great piece with lots of useful tips on exactly how you can diversify your child’s reading library!