My experience as an elementary school teacher and speech-language pathologist has given me a love for and true understanding of the power of books. I incorporate books in to most of my speech therapy sessions, because they provide so many learning opportunities. It was important to me to read to my baby from the beginning and it has been so cool to watch my son’s love for books and reading evolve! My husband initially doubted me when I would make him join in on our book reading routines. After rolling his eyes and suggesting that baby did not understand, I would say, “it is important, watch and see” and explain why. And proving him wrong has been so gratifying! Now he sits in amazement as he reads to our son and watches him attend, coo, and engage with the book he’s reading. I told my husband that our son had favorite books and he was like yeah right?!?! One night after he read our son night time stories, he came out of the nursery and said, “he really does like Moo, Baa, Lalala.” I was like, “I know!” The proof is in the pictures.
From a professional perspective, I recommend incorporating books and reading in to your baby’s routines as much as possible beginning in the newborn stage, even if baby appears inattentive. Why?
- Develops receptive and expressive language
- Builds listening, memory, and attention skills
- Introduces concepts such as colors, numbers, shapes, positions, letters
- Supports social and emotional development
- Develops concepts of print
- Builds communication skills and an understanding that sounds go together to make words and words go together to form sentences
- Assists baby in making connections within his environment
- Is a multi-sensory experience
- Creates a bond with the caregiver
- Is relaxing and fun!
Babies learn to understand and speak the language which they are exposed to. In other words, the more they hear, the more they learn. Babies learn phonemic awareness, which is the ability to perceive individual sounds in the stream of speech, in the first eight to ten months of age. Around eighteen months old, babies typically understand 50 words and can produce 3-20 words. By twenty-four months of age, children typically understand 300 or more words and can say 50-100 or more words. After age two, babies acquire vocabulary at a rapid rate. Reading to children supports and expands their vocabulary. Get started!
Tips: Reading the same book over and over is not a bad thing. It allows baby to learn more and more about the book each time it’s read. To foster a love for reading, give baby free access to books for exploration!