We know that reading is a beneficial activity for all children. From birth, children are designed to enjoy hearing the human language and to try it out themselves. Reading is one of the best ways we can pass language and ideas on to our children. It is also one of the greatest ways a parent can bond with their little one. How is reading different at birth, two years, four years, and six years of age? Here are some facts to help you maximize the time you spend reading with your little one at any age.
From Birth to Toddler Hood
Reading aloud to your newborn is not just a great way to pass the time but is a highly beneficial activity that will assist your child throughout their entire life. It is difficult to imagine that a newborn can benefit from the simple act of hearing mom or dad read to him (or her), but indeed he/she does.
Reading to a newborn can expose them to a greater variety of words and sounds. Studies have shown that in fact, this allows a child to keep a greater variety of sounds available as they learn and develop their own language, as well as foreign languages that they may choose to learn throughout life. The more words and languages they hear at birth, the easier it will be for them to pronounce each of them correctly later. Holding your child and reading to them is a bonding time that can never be replaced.
At Age Two
The age of two is a fun time for reading. Your child will enjoy hearing you read and point out colors and pictures. They will be drawn to books with lots of silly words and sounds. When you read to your child, use a great deal of voice inflection as this helps your child to learn the appropriate ways of speaking for each moment and situation. They will especially love reading books with lots of action and emotion. From age two to four your child will be soaking in hundreds of words and learning every day. Their vocabulary will grow tremendously over this time period.
At Age Four
Your four-year-old will enjoy books with adventure and plots that they can relate to their own lives. Continue to look for books with bright photos that draw them in. They will likely want to try reading with you, so choose books that have easy words that you can sound out for them. When you read to your four-year-old, it is a great time to seize the teachable moments and see what you can pass to them. Their vocabulary continues to grow during this period.
At Age Six
Six-year-olds are learning more about the world around them and how it relates to them as individuals. Use books that help foster empathy in children, and that talk in an age-appropriate way about being responsible members of society. Six-year-olds often feel older than they actually are and love challenges. They will also learn a great deal from the way you read to them, and the emotion they detect in your voice. This is the time when your child will begin to read more to you as you continue to teach them and they learn at school. It is an exciting time for them and for you.
Reading is a great choice of activity at any age. When you read to your child, you are investing in his or her future. Know in advance what some of the great age-specific benefits are given to your child through reading to them, and they will benefit from it throughout life.