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When is the Right Time to Start Reading to Your Child?

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One major benefit of reading with your children is the time spent together, but did you also know it exercises their brain, improves concentration and develops their imagination? Studies also show children who are read to starting at an early age perform better academically. You might be wondering when is the right time to start reading to your child. Below is a list of age-appropriate tips, courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Birth to Age 1

  • Play with your baby often. Talk, sing and say rhymes. This helps your baby learn to talk.
  • Talk with your baby, making eye contact. Give your baby time to answer in baby talk.
  • Give your baby sturdy board books to look at. It’s OK if they chew on a book.
  • Look at picture books with your baby and name things. For example, say “See the baby!” or “Look at the puppy!”
  • Babies like board books with pictures of babies and everyday objects like balls and blocks.
  • Snuggle with your baby on your lap and read aloud. Your baby may not understand the story, but will love the sound of your voice and being close to you.
  • Don’t let your child watch TV until age 2 or older.

1 to 3 Years of Age

  • Read to your child every day. Let your child pick the book, even if it’s the same one again and again!
  • Younger toddlers (1 to 2 years old) like board books with pictures of children doing everyday things like eating and playing. They also like ‘good night’ books and books with rhymes. Books should only have a few words on each page.
  • Older toddlers (2 to 3 years old) love books with rhymes and words that are repeated. Books about families, friends, animals and trucks are also good.
  • Let your child ‘read’ to you by naming things in the book or making up a story.
  • Take your child to the library. Celebrate your child getting a library card!
  • Keep talking, singing, saying rhymes, and playing with your child.
  • Don’t let your child watch TV until age 2 or older.

3 to 5 Years of Age

  • Read ABC books with your child. Point out letters as you read.
  • Preschool children like books that tell stories. They also love counting books, alphabet books, and word books. Like toddlers, they love books with rhymes and words they can learn by heart.
  • Help your child recognize whole words as well as letters. Point out things like letters on a stop sign or the name of a favorite store.
  • Ask your child questions about the pictures and story. Invite him or her to make up a story about what’s in the book.
  • Some TV shows, videos and computer games can help your child learn to read. But you need to be involved, too. Watch or play with your child and talk about the program. Limit TV time to 1 or 2 hours per day. Try to stick to educational shows.
  • Give your child several chances to use written words. Write shopping lists together, or write letters to friends or family.

Read Aloud with Your Child
Reading aloud is one of the best ways to help your child learn to read. The more excited you act when you read a book, the more your child will enjoy it.

  • Use funny voices and animal noises.
  • Look at the pictures. Ask your child to name things in the pictures. Talk about how the pictures go with the story. Ask what is happening in the story.
  • Invite your child to join in when a line is repeated over and over.
  • Show your child how things in the book are like things in your child’s life.
  • If your child asks a question, stop and answer it. Books can help children express their thoughts and problem solve.
  • Keep reading to your child even after he or she learns to read. Children can listen and understand harder stories than they can read on their own.

Listen to Your Child Read Aloud

  • Once your child starts reading, have him or her read out loud. Take turns reading.
  • If he or she asks for help with a word, give it right away. But let your child sound out words if he or she wants to.
  • Know when your child has had enough. Stop if your child is tired or frustrated.
  • Most of all, give lots of praise! You are your child’s first and most important teacher.

Reading Tips

  • Set aside time every day to read together. Reading at bedtime is a great way to get ready for sleep.
  • Leave books in your children’s rooms for them to enjoy on their own. Have a comfortable bed or chair, bookshelf and reading lamp.
  • Read books your child enjoys. Your child may learn the words to a favorite book. Then, let your child complete the sentences, or take turns saying the words.
  • Don’t drill your child on letters, numbers, colors, shapes or words. Instead, make a game of it.