When should you start read­ing to your lit­tle one? And which books are best?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Front Page -

In among all the other things we need to take care of as par­ents of ba­bies, read­ing of­ten falls by the way­side. Read­ing to un­der-ones – who have a limited vo­cab­u­lary, af­ter all – can some­times (of­ten!) be a strug­gle, and you can’t help but won­der if there’s any use to your ef­forts.

But don’t give up, says Cape Town based early child­hood de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist Wilma Tin­dall, since read­ing to chil­dren of all ages is good for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. She says that read­ing: ● Cre­ates in­ti­macy through the close­ness and un­di­vided at­ten­tion that you give your child. ● In­stils a love for books, sto­ries, words and sounds in your child. ● Helps to de­velop lan­guage as chil­dren need to hear sounds and words and how words are joined to­gether to make a sen­tence be­fore they can be­gin to speak. ● Stim­u­lates cu­rios­ity and learn­ing about the world and things and peo­ple in it. ● Stim­u­lates the imag­i­na­tion. ● Helps chil­dren to think about sit­u­a­tions, emo­tions and prob­lems, and how oth­ers han­dle these. ● Teaches chil­dren to feel em­pa­thy for oth­ers or other liv­ing things. ● Helps pre­pare chil­dren for school as it pro­vides book han­dling and read­ing skills (un­der­stand­ing that writ­ten words mean some­thing and can be de­ci­phered).

She says that by about eight months, chil­dren gen­er­ally have the ca­pac­ity to con­cen­trate for short pe­ri­ods and can spend time on your lap look­ing at pic­tures and lis­ten­ing to you nam­ing things or say­ing some­thing very brief about the pic­tures. “It’s not re­ally about fol­low­ing a story at this early stage.”

“The value now is mostly in the lov­ing at­ten­tion and the happy time to­gether – the close­ness be­tween the reader and the lis­tener, the in­ter­ac­tion with a bright, clear, sim­ple pic­ture that’s an in­tro­duc­tion to books, and the idea of get­ting in­for­ma­tion off a page. It’s a good rou­tine to be­gin in any case. Just keep the ses­sions short and fun.”

If your baby is younger than eight months, and you’re keen to start read­ing, Wilma rec­om­mends us­ing things you find in the ev­ery­day en­vi­ron­ment – toys, bot­tles, cups, plates, clothes, even hu­man faces and pets – point­ing them out and nam­ing them.

“As your child gets a lit­tle older, a very short sen­tence about each ob­ject helps with lan­guage de­vel­op­ment,” Wilma says.

“Sounds are fun for chil­dren – so are ac­tion rhymes.”

But don’t think that you have to go out and buy a whole load of books for your grow­ing book­worm. Wilma says that with very young read­ers, you can get away with cre­at­ing your own ma­te­rial. “For the very youngest read­ers you could have fun mak­ing a book from mag­a­zine pic­tures,” she says.

“That way you can make a book that matches ob­jects from your child’s spe­cific en­vi­ron­ment.”

Ba­bies also love look­ing at other ba­bies, so feel free to put your baby on your lap while you en­joy this mag­a­zine! Maybe just try and finish it your­self first, as it might get ripped up while baby “reads”. YB

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