How to make the most out of reading to baby

While working as a teacher, I had the opportunity to teach students who were in grades K-5. Now that I am a new mother, I often find myself wondering, "What is the best way to make reading with my baby interesting?" When my baby, Jimmy, was 2 months old, he would make ooing and ahh sounds as I read to him if he was reading with me. I was impressed. He would even stop making these sounds as I would turn the page! When he turned 4 months all this stopped. I was confused and wondered why. The only conclusion I came to is that he was doing so many other things that he was focusing on those milestones more. Now that he is 6 months old, he is very squirmy and wants to eat the book I'm reading to him instead of listening. So, I’ve been working with him to find what works best to engage him.

A few tips I have found to work very well include:

Use board books

These work well with little hands as babies cannot get a paper cut on their hands or faces. My baby got one of these the other day, so don't learn the hard way! Their padded covers, large pictures, and basic images are captivating. Some baby board books even have different textures that allow baby to touch and feel as they learn. They definitely capture the interest of the youngest babies and will promote page turning.

Develop a routine

There is a time to play, eat, sleep, and most importantly, read! Make sure you find a time of day or several times in a day to read to baby. The best times I have encountered that work are after eating and playing. It gives baby time to wind down before an afternoon nap and bedtime. Your baby will expect this time and will be excited when you bring out that book you have chosen to read. This will even give baby a cue that sleeping comes next.

Be expressive

No one wants to listen to a story in a monotone, boring voice. Make your voice change to sound like the characters. Bring the story to life! Babies love to hear the different sounds and tones in your voice. This will help them later to understand that stories have characters and different personalities. So, next time you read your baby a story, have fun with it. Read loudly, softly, whisper, as appropriate. Don’t worry, your baby will not judge you, instead he’ll reward you with a smile or maybe even giggle!

Read books that are short

Every baby is different. With my first son, he could sit and listen to a novel if I read one to him, but my newborn will twist his way out of reading position if I dare to try. I have learned to read books to him that are short. You can try to read several books if he is interested. I usually only get to read two short stories in one sitting.

Let baby play with books

You don’t always have to read a book to your baby to promote early literacy. Allowing baby to play with a board book is helping them develop a love for reading. You may even catch him trying to turn the pages! So, let your baby slobber all over his book. It’s good for him!

Reread books

Don’t think that you have to read a different book everyday. Babies love to listen to the same books over and over. This will help them to not only enjoy reading but develop vocabulary as well. He may not be able to say or repeat the words, but baby will begin to make connections with the pictures and sounds in words.

Keep books handy

Always keep a few books around the house. This will make them easily accessible. Baby will learn the importance of reading, develop a love for reading, and will save you a trip to the nursery. I hate having to go upstairs or downstairs to get his book when it’s time to read. Having a book bin in every room has helped a ton!

Most importantly, don’t stress if your baby doesn’t want to listen to you read sometimes. Don’t think you need to finish reading the book if he doesn’t want to. Tomorrow is another day to bring it out and try reading again! It’s like introducing new solid foods. He will love them, trust me!

More about baby reading early

Ann Navarro

About Ann Navarro

Ann has teaching experience working with elementary students in the areas of bilingual education, dual language, English as a Second Language, and Reading. Ann holds a Masters Degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a Reading Specialist Concentration. She also has experience evaluating lesson plans for the Smithsonian Institution. In her spare time, Ann enjoys spending time with her family outdoors and reading.

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