It is a good idea to read to your baby on a regular basis from as early as 6 months old. This helps to build the foundations of a developed language system for when your child is ready to start learning to read by school age.

Reading to your child is about more than just bedtime stories. Here are some ways to illustrate the importance of reading and to incorporate it into your everyday activities:

Repetition

The more your child hears certain words over and over again, the more he or she will become familiar with their sounds and meanings. This means that as well as reading to your toddler, you should also make an effort to chat to him or her throughout the day, to ensure that your child is absorbing as much vocabulary as possible.

Take reading out of the home

As well as reading to your child at home, possibly at bedtime or another designated ‘quiet’ time of the day, you should also make sure that reading is not confined to the boundaries of your own home. As you walk down the street, or supermarket aisles, point at things and name them for your baby. As your child begins to be able to talk, point at signs and repeat the word to them. This will help your child understand that there is a link between the spoken and written word.

Turn reading into real life

If your toddler enjoys a particular book because of the interesting colours and shapes on the page, then show them the real life version of what you’ve been reading about. If you’ve been reading a book about sheep, then go to a field and find some real sheep. If you’ve been reading about ducks, then go to the park and feed the ducks. If you’ve been reading about a giraffe or elephants, then go to the zoo. You get the idea.

Songs

Teach your toddler that words can be sung as well as spoken by singing along. Find a song you like. Print out the lyrics to it and then sit down with your baby and sing the lyrics out loud. This helps to teach your baby about how language can be used in multiple ways.

Rhymes

Another fantastic way to illustrate the interesting nature of the English (or another) language, is with the use of nursery rhymes. Pick a book with colourful pictures and make the most of your sing song voice, as you read the nursery rhymes out loud.

Make reading normal

Make sure that your toddler sees you reading some grown-up literature, such as a book, magazine or the newspaper. This way your child will see that reading is a normal part of your family life and as they grow older, they’ll want to mimic you more and more. Sometimes you can read out loud to your baby, although this is not essential so long as you make time for parent/child reading at another point in the day.

Give your baby a bookshelf

If you create a bookshelf especially for your child, then he or she will realise that reading must be very important. You should try and make sure that the bookshelf is within easy reach of your toddler, so if they want to crawl or toddle up to the shelf and drag a book out, then they know that that’s allowed and encouraged.

Variety

Although if your toddler has a favourite book, it’s a great idea to read it over and over again, so that they’re able to associate reading with something that they want to do, it’s also a great idea to incorporate as many different types of reading into your routine as possible. So for instance, try and read poems, rhymes, short stories, fairy tales etc. so that your child is able to understand that reading encompasses many different types of interesting subjects.

Make It Fun

If you look like you’re having fun when reading to your child, then he or she will link reading and fun together. Anything that encourages your child to want to read and learn at this stage is fantastic.

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