Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reading Effectively to Newborns

I’ve started reading this new book, by Judith A. Schickedanz and Molly F. Collins, called So Much More Than the ABCs: The Early Phases of Reading and Writing, and it gives some really good ideas about what and how to read to your newborn baby.

According to the book, babies this young (birth to three months) “do not yet have fully developed visual acuity, and therefore prefer images with high contrast and large shapes and patterns.” In addition, they tend to prefer pictures of human faces over other objects. So, books like Tana Hoban’s black and white books and Margaret Miller’s Baby Faces are perfect for the youngest babies. Another great idea the book suggested is making your own book of faces, using a binder with plastic sleeves or a photo album, and putting in your own photographs. If your baby is going to be looking at books of people’s faces, why not make them faces of familiar people?

In addition, most books for young babies don’t typically have many words to read. That’s okay; adding your own words to go along with the book “promotes language development, because it connects the sounds of our language with the objects, actions, or attributes to which the language refers.” Plus, since newborn babies don’t yet see pictures well or understand the meanings of words, it doesn’t matter what is read as much as the fact that something is read or said to them. Even just reciting nursery rhymes or singing songs is really effective for babies at this age.

Finally, take cues from your baby to decide when to stop reading. If she seems to be engaged, keep going! But, when she shows signs of being disinterested, move on to something else. Don't force it. Even at the earliest age, you want to make reading a fun experience!

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