Seeds Of Reading – July 2013

The parents of a newborn have the awe-inspiring privilege and responsibility to watch their child grow and learn.  Each first is exciting, whether it is their baby’s first smile, first time rolling over, first steps, or first word.  Each new accomplishment is the beginning of a journey that extends throughout a lifetime.

One journey that many new parents are surprised to learn begins at birth is that of literacy.  Long before formal education is introduced, the foundation for learning to read is established.  One of the earliest ways in which this occurs is when parents and caregivers talk to a newborn.  Verbal communication allows a baby to hear the sounds and rhythms of language, and it provides an opportunity to learn how communication takes place. It is important to note that exposing a child to language (e.g., watching television) is not the same as interacting with language (e.g., using eye contact while speaking and responding to a child).

To easily and effectively promote the early literacy skills of babies and toddlers, follow these simple suggestions:





Talk to your baby throughout the day.  Describe what you are doing, what you see,   and where you are going.  Your child   will learn words, ideas, and how language works.

Ask questions and listen carefully to   your toddler’s answers. Encourage him to tell you what he thinks, wants, and   needs. Your child will learn how to express himself.

Sound   Off!

Encourage your baby to coo, babble, and   growl; it’s her way of practicing the sounds of speech.  Praise her attempts to mimic you.

Play with the sounds of language by   reciting rhyming poems, singing songs, and chanting nursery rhymes.  Try leaving out a word to see if she can   “fill in the blank.”

Best   Books!

Choose cloth, plastic (bathtub books),   or board books with bright and bold colors and high-contrast   illustrations.  Place them where your   baby can reach them; be prepared for him to place the books in his mouth.

Select attention-grabbing books that   will keep your child’s hands busy.    Books with different textures and flaps to peek under, and those with   sounds are great for toddlers to explore. Look for books about everyday   experiences that your child will identify with.

Reading   Time!

Hold your baby closely as you read a   book together; she will enjoy the snuggling and will learn to associate   reading a book with feeling safe and secure.

Pack a book in the diaper bag and pull   it out whenever you have a few minutes of one-on-one time. Your baby will   learn that books can be read anytime, anywhere.

A toddler’s attention span is shorter   than a baby’s, so keep reading time short and simple.  Instead of reading several books during a   twenty minute time period, break it into four sessions of five minutes each   spread throughout the day. Don’t worry about finishing each book if she is   ready to move on to another activity.    It’s important to make reading time a pleasurable experience.



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