In honour of World Book Day last week I thought I would write something about books.
I’ve always loved reading. My mom read to me when I was little and when I could read on my own she would take me to the library every summer so I could enroll in the reading program. It was exciting, I got a paper map with all of the types of books I could read and when I completed one I would get a stamp on that space. I never completed the map but that wasn’t the point it was the experience of doing it with my mom and my love for books. I always had a massive bookshelf in my room growing up proudly displaying all my books through my childhood and adolescent years – from Is That You God It’s Me Margaret, the Nancy Drew series, The Babysitters Club and other more serious books like Julie of The Wolves and The Pigman. I know that having a really strong foundation of reading lead me to be confident in school with vocabulary, reading harder school books and writing book reports every year from elementary school to senior year. There have been loads of studies linking reading to better achievement in school, better SAT scores and even higher intelligence. I know that every summer during high school I would read at least ten books and some would be from the suggested reading list aka difficult and/or boring. Books challenged me, broadened my horizons and took me to places I never imagined In Cold Blood, Rebecca, Animal Farm, The Metamorphosis, Slaughterhouse Five, Crime & Punishment and they made me interesting and well-read as an adult.
I don’t read as much as I should as an adult but I still enjoy getting lost in a book. I wanted to ensure that my daughter gets the same introduction to books and reading as I did with my mom so I made sure I had lots of books in her room before she was born. I started reading to her week three and haven’t stopped. You might think why so young? She can’t understand yet what’s the point? Reading is a lot more than comprehension for newborns it’s helping them learn words, literacy and positive family relationships.
Every morning she hears at least one book and sometimes up to five depending on her mood and the length of the books. I have found that I love the classic books I loved as a kid but for her age and the amount we read I found that I enjoy reading books that rhyme more than anything. The rhyming is more enjoyable for me to read because it has a nice rhythm and flow and rhyming words are great for babies because it helps them develop language skills,
Perhaps less obvious, however, are the dramatic benefits to literacy that are gained through exposure to rhymes. Research in recent decades has provided a wealth of knowledge on how sensitivity to rhyme helps children progress with reading.
I was given a book called Jamberry for my baby shower and I had never heard of it before – this was the first rhyming book I had read apart from Dr. Seuss. I love it it’s one of my favorites to read still so that and On The Night You Were Born both got me thinking that I wanted to buy more younger board books and ones that rhymed. So I started to look up the best books for babies and other books by these authors. I bought another 20 books from Wordery.com which has an amazing selection and ships for free worldwide. Julia Donaldson is my favorite author for rhyming because she has a lot of books to choose from and they are beautifully illustrated – Room on The Broom is my favorite of hers.
So by age three our babies should have heard 30 million words. Books can be a big part of this learning vocabulary process but it’s also about you and your partner talking. It doesn’t matter what you talk about just narrating what you are doing while they watch you and what they are experiencing is a big step in the right direction. Apparently how much we communicate on even this basic level is predetermined by our socio-economic background and upbringing. So how much money you are born into and what school you attend are just a piece of what determines a child’s educational potential – money can’t buy intelligence and schools have less to do than we think when it comes to educational inequality because by the time kindergarten arrives children have had five years with their parents. Kindergarten isn’t a level playing field and it’s not about those with money buying tutoring to get ahead – it just comes down to whether or not you create an environment that includes lots of reading and positive and meaningful communication (not just “don’t touch that” or “no”).
We don’t do loads of baby talk and if you don’t feel comfortable you don’t need to do that either. What we have always done with our baby is from the first time she has made sounds i.e. communicated to us – we always talk back and look at her, then pause so she knows we are paying attention and she understands what a conversation is like from the very beginning.
Do you like books as much as me? Or love reading to your baby? Let me know what your favorite books are to read to your baby 🙂
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