I ran across an article today that stated most parents don’t know how important it is to read to their children, ‘only 39 percent of parents read daily to their infants and toddlers, according to a 1996 survey by the Commonwealth Fund.’ The problem was that the article statistic, published today, was based off a study dated 18 years ago! It seemed quite outdated to me and considering how long ago that study was conducted, I would no longer consider it valid. However, though the percentages could be very different today, I imagine there are still many who don’t realize the importance of reading to children.
I have a three month old who listens to me read my books as I lay beside her. I also take time to sit her on my lap and read toddler books to her, including a Dr. Seuss ABC board book, a few other board books, a very fun foam book about the color of critters in the ocean, and another light-weight board book of a lullaby and beautifully illustrated pages. Her attention span is short as you can imagine so reading time doesn’t last more than 10 minutes.
Sometimes I wonder how quickly I will get tired of the same books every day but I also wonder which one will become her favorite. I usually read the ocean book because it has the best characteristics for a book to suit her age: short and simple words, big pictures of simple things, bright colors, and each page is a board covered in bath foam that she will eventually be able to play with and will even be okay if she decides to feast on it, literally. Repetition is also good for small children so I’m good with usually reading that one and for now, sticking to those same five books over and over.
It can get quiet around the house without the opportunity for her to hear voices and talking so reading is another helpful way for her to hear words as her mind is learning how to talk … even if that will take another year to actually manifest itself. She seems to take some interest in the bright pictures of the more colorful books, but reading to them, even at this early, early stage, isn’t about learning to read. Of course not. It’s about her interaction with me, hearing my voice, stimulating her mind with simple words (except when I read my stuff of course), colorful pictures and perhaps she will even develop a love for books later in life.
There are many studies and research that show reading to infants and small children is important and I’m sure there are reasons that I don’t include here. It isn’t just for older children. I encourage anyone to pick up a small book and begin reading to their children daily.