Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Babies NEED books!

It is never too early to introduce

your child to books. Although infants will be unable to follow a plot or understand a

theme, infants will benefit from exposure to books. In addition to the bonding that is

inevitable when you hold your baby in your lap and communicate with her, reading to your

baby is valuable in the development of language skills. Long before your baby utters her

first word, she is absorbing sounds that will first help contribute to the development of

speech, and later reading. Books also stimulate your baby’s imagination, helping her

to make sense of situations she has experienced and introducing her to new ones.

Reading to your infant today promotes

good reading habits tomorrow. There is a difference in the attention spans of children who

have been read to regularly, says Bernice Cullinan, Professor of Early Childhood and

Elementary Education at New York University and a highly acclaimed reading specialist. Dr.

Cullinan is the author of
Read to Me:

Raising Kids Who Love to Read
and Invitation to Read.

As infants are particularly responsive to

the sounds of language, the best books for babies emphasize rhythm, melody, and

repetition, such as nursery rhymes and books with patterned language. Rhythm, rhyme,

repetition and familiar language sequences will captivate babies. Books for infants

usually have minimal text; the words often function like labels or captions for the

pictures. Infants enjoy looking at pictures of other people, especially other babies. They

recognize facial features and expressions. Babies and small children love seeing familiar

objects like a stuffed bear or a rubber duck, or people doing things that they have had

some experience with in their daily experience, such as getting dressed or taking bath.

Infants see books as toys. They will

explore books the same way they explore everything else in their worlds: by grabbing,

tossing, turning them upside down and putting the books in their mouths. For these

reasons, small durable board books, designed for small fingers and to endure harsh

treatment by babies, are the most appropriate for young book lovers. The following board

books should encourage your budding bookworm:

Books are not just educational and

developmental devices. Babies, like adults, are entertained by books. Parents and other

caregivers find that books are a very effective way to keep babies entertained. Indeed,

early enjoyment of books will help form a foundation for the vital role books will play in

your child’s formal education.

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