Babies and books

Babies and books

You can never begin too early to read to your baby. Not only is it a lovely quiet time activity to do together, by reading to him you'll be strengthening your bond with him and modelling to him one of the ways we communicate with each other.

Why should I read to my baby?

When you hold your baby and read a book to him, you are introducing him to a world of entertainment that will bring him joy and solace for the rest of his life. As a young child, he'll love spending special time curled up in your lap listening to your voice and looking at the pictures while you read, and as he grows older he'll love to take a more active role in the choosing and reading of books.

Children who have been read to from an early age, often develop the skills to speak, read and write easily. By reading books to your child, you will introduce him to some important skills:

  • talking and understanding language
  • problem solving
  • imagination
  • concentration
  • creativity
  • listening

Tips for reading to your baby:

  • Make time every day to read with your child. Reading is a lovely way to spend time together so try to make it special by snuggling up together in a special chair, or choose the same time every day to read (just before bed is a great time)
  • When you read together, look at the book and at your baby. Try to see what he is seeing and use this as a guide to point out and name objects in the illustrations that he may recognise.
  • Give your voice character when you read. Try to use a variety of tones and volume to communicate emotion when you read with your baby to keep it interesting.
  • Be prepared to read the favourite books again and again. Children learn from repetition and will learn to anticipate the story if you keep to the same reading voice each time.
  • Your baby will go through phases when you may find it difficult to read to him - he's grabbing the book from you, he doesn't want to sit down with you, he isn't listening to you read. But do persist because by continuing to read to him, you'll be teaching him the value of books and reading - and the time he gets to spend with you when you read together.
  • Your baby can't actually read himself, so he won't know if you don't stick to the words on the page. You can make up stories as you go along, and if you think the book's a little too long for him, just skip a couple of pages!

What types of books are suitable for my baby?

Your young baby will enjoy books that have a few words on the page and simple illustrations that are highly coloured. Once he gets a little older, he'll enjoy books with simple photographic pictures of objects that he recognises such as cars, food, toys and animals.

But as soon as he's old enough to grab, books will become one of his favourite toys - not only to read but to eat, throw, and tear! Don't invest in expensive books at this age; just go for the simple and strong. Board books are a popular choice at this age because they are exceptionally tough.


This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government's Parenting and Child Health.

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