Reading to our kids is one of the best ways to encourage learning, teach concepts, build memory and vocabulary, and strengthen the bond between child and parent (or grandparent, babysitter, sibling, etc.).
Your child is never too young for you to read to! Every age will benefit by reading, they just vary a little. Babies love to hear your voice; reading just provides another outlet for them to hear you, be close to you, and share in your appreciation for books. Toddlers start to recognize shapes and familiar objects, wanting to point at and touch things on the pages while holding the book. As they transition to more independent children, they want to select the books, make up their own stories, and will even ask (and answer) questions about what you have read. The more you read, the more they will love to read!
So how do you pick a book? The easiest way: pick ones that interest your child! It’s a game of trial and error, but you will eventually find ones that become fan favorites! Here are some tips on how to pick a book!
Reading with Babies: Birth to One-Year
When picking books for those under one, keep in mind that everything will go in their mouth and be dropped constantly. Pick books made of sturdy vinyl, cloth, or board books. Let your baby hold, play with, or even chew them – this is how they learn what a book is.
Touch-and-feel books are also highly popular with this age group – ones that crinkle, have mirrors, have textured surfaces, or flaps that open.
Babies will like the same book over and over – this doesn’t mean you have to read all the words on all the pages all the time. Talk about what is on the page (“Look at the brown cat.”) or ask questions (“What is that silly rabbit doing?”) while pointing to the pictures. Adding in sounds and using an expressive voice will further enhance the reading experience for both of you!
When reading to baby, hold them on your lap, let them touch (and turn when they can) the pages, and point out things to you. You’ll be surprised how much that little nugget is picking up on!
Reading with Toddlers: One- and Two-Year Old’s
As babies start to morph into the fantastic stage that is toddlerhood, they look for more in their books. They want to pick out books independently – often the same five to ten in rotation over and over again. They will want to hold it, turn the pages, and point out all the things they recognize.
Some of the most popular toddler book themes are food, trucks, animals, and children. They like books with few words but lots of colors and shapes. Many toddlers will want a book at bedtime, so it’s a perfect way to use a story as the last part of the bedtime routine. You can even use the same last book every night as that signal it is time to sleep.
Toddlers will probably want to move around while you are reading but know they are still paying attention. Ask them about the story, have them point to things on the pages (it helps them learn new words and associate them to what they are), and continue to use an expressive voice while you read!
Reading with Small Children: Three to Five Year Old’s
As they start to understand more, their book needs will change as well. They will start to lean towards books that tell a story. This will probably lead to them telling you stories too – which is a great use of their imagination.
They will love books about families, friends, and going to school. Books about the alphabet and counting are big hits because they can engage and will recognize what is on the pages. Children will be further engaged when you ask questions about the stories you read.
Once again, children at this age will want to sit in your lap while reading, turning the pages, and being fully engaged in the story. They may even start to recognize the story and be able to parrot it back to you!
One of the best ways to keep their love for reading going is to visit your local library and check out the children’s section! This allows children to explore a larger variety of books.
Visiting the library!
Children of all ages can benefit from visiting the library! Take a trip to your local branch and see what they have to offer! Even more exciting, September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month! It’s a perfect time to get your little their very own card – they may even have special cards at your local branch as they do in Kern County! Requirements to receive a library card vary by branch. The librarian I spoke to recommends waiting until a child can understand what it means to check out books. This could be as early as 5 years old but most children are closer to 7 or 8 when they get their first library card.
If you live in Kern County, this information is for you! A quick trip to the Beale Memorial Library in Bakersfield, California provided me with some great information on reading with kids!
- Library cards are FREE!!!
- Getting a library card is as easy as having a valid photo ID: anyone under 18 must have an adult with an ID associated with their card to be financially accountable for the account
- A library card from Kern County is good at all libraries that are part of the San Joaquin Library system (all the way up to Fresno County!)
Various programs for available kids at Kern County Branches
1-2-3 Play with Me
- Geared for 1-3 year olds
- 5-part series focusing on reading, community partners and activities; registration required
Bark and Books
- Geared for K to 8th Grades
- Read to furry friends
Bilingual Story Time
- Includes stories, songs, and fun for English and Spanish speakers alike
Get Up and Play Time
- Geared for ages 3-5
- Includes an hour of preschool sensory activities and reading
- Geared for ages 3-5
- Includes stories, movement, songs and fun
- Geared for 18 months to 2 years old
- Includes stories, movement, songs, and friendship
AND SO MANY MORE!!!
You can see the full event calendar with location here: https://kclevents.org/events/
Or go to your local branch and get a copy of WordPlay for a color-coded book of all the events, locations, times, and descriptions!
Reading is fun for everyone! Set time aside every day to read to your kids – even if it’s just a few minutes here and there several times a day! Happy reading!
Blog submitted by Sabrina Gondeck, WarmLine Member