When Should You Start Your Child on Reading?
The short answer is – Anytime!
Studies have shown that reading to children even as young as infants have a positive impact on their language development. A research done in Rhode Island Hospital compared two groups of eight months old babies: One group was read to often and the other was not. The first group had their vocabulary increased by 40 per cent since infancy, while the non-reading group increased by only 16 per cent.
The good news is that you don’t really need to fuss about specific titles to read to your infant child. At this age, Tolstoy's War and Peace sounds just as good as Green Eggs and Ham. The newborn child is more interested in the rhythm, intonation and inflection in your voice than Anna Pavlovna's party guest list. It is however advisable to pick books with interesting illustrations and word patterns – such as rhymes – to get the child to grasp the patterns of language.
Besides the tangential benefits like parent-child bonding and cultivating an appreciation for books, the aspect I find to be the most valuable is that reading to my child introduces him to a wide array of emotions and intonations. Whether it's doing a voice for a specific character or describing a suspenseful situation, reading to your child conveys the idea that words have meaning and certain sounds mean different things. Stories are also a safe way to explore real world scenarios. Books about a visit to the dentist or making new friends will help your child learn how to handle change better and develop an understanding of the world around them.
Eugene Tay, Founder of Monsters Under the Bed, a creative writing school for children, had a candid and practical outlook on getting children into the habit of reading. He has this to say: “Stories stimulates children’s imagination and often times a good book can be read over and over again each time sparking a different idea. The possibilities are almost limitless! Well, perhaps only limited by the number of books your child has access to. If you equip your children with a creative mind, a piece of rubber band, plasticine and a stick can provide hours of endless entertainment!”
Written by Grace Chai, mother of a newborn baby boy.
Grace is a new mom and currently undergoing intensive On-The-Job Training for her new role. Between pumping milk, changing diapers and taking selfies with her baby, Grace manages stress by writing about her motherhood experience for ParentTown.
Stay tune for our next article where we ask Eugene to share with us his views on picture books.