Tuesday, March 5, 2013

10 things you can do to teach your baby to read

What do you say? That babies do not read?

Well, then. You are right. Not even the most intelligent babies can read, just the same as they can't perfectly understand cultural customs or follow pedestrian laws.

But babies can learn to want to read. And that, my friends, is the biggest step towards learning to read. But how do you make a baby want to read? With older kids and toddlers, it seems difficult (even though it doesn't have to be), but doable. But a baby? Isn't it too soon to try to teach them.

The answer is yes (it's an age to learn, not to be taught) and no (but babies learn through imitation, and it is never too soon to introduce them to good behaviors, like reading). You can kindle your kid's curiosity towards reading as soon as he starts getting interested in things. How? Try these:

  1. Read. Who does your baby look up to to learn new things? He learns to smile when you react to his smile smiling back; she learns to talk when you respond to his babble. The things you eat, he wants to try... the books you read, she wants to read too. Let your baby see you read: maybe a novel, a magazine, a letter... Let it become part of what he usually sees you doing, and soon he'll want to do it too.
  2. Read to him/her. Even when she doesn't show much interest, read her aloud one short baby book, some fragment of what you are reading, some verses of the Bible/Quran/your religious book of choice (if you are religious). Maybe just sit with a picture book and explain her what she can see on every page. It doesn't need to be for long.
  3. Have books on display. While it isn't as important as #1 or #2, seeing books around will help your kid see them as something normal, usual, a part of daily life.
  4. Let her/him play with books. Of course, keep the most fragile ones, the ones you want to keep perfect away from his grasp, but let him play with the others. He will bite them, try to tear the pages, drool all over the covers... Gently stop him breaking them, show him how to turn the pages (even if he won't learn for a long time), how to treat with respect the written words. And do not worry if he keeps trying to eat them: it's his way to show he's interested!
  5. Set a book-reading time. With Oath, we read before bedtime. After the bath, I put him in his crib and sit on the bed by his side. I give him one or two of his baby books for him to explore and I grab a book for me (a novel, or one of my university text books if an exam is coming up). I read while he plays, and every once in a while I help him turn a page, read a bit to him or show him the colorful pictures. When it's clear he's tired of it, he nurses and goes to sleep, but every day we have our reading time together, and he seems to like it more and more every time.
  6. Go to the library or the bookstore, let her "choose" some books to read. At first she will be drawn only to the colors, but as she grows older your baby will learn new ways to choose: big books or small ones, books with animals on the cover or books with real photos... Also, she will get used to going there, and you can forge a habit that will last for life.
  7. Change things up in his baby library. Have different kinds of books (albums, photo books, plastic inflatable ones for the bathtub, cloth ones...) and rotate from the beginning, so your baby does not get tired of always seeing the same, or overwhelmed because he has too many to choose from. Bringing back an old favorite, or adding a new one, can spark his curiosity again.
  8. Show him older siblings/cousins/friends reading. Kids like to copy other kids, so if there's an older sibling reading the baby is more likely to want to try it.
  9. Read some more. Because you can never read too much around a child and it's the way of sparkling their interest. And it's also good for you!
  10. Never force reading, or a book, on him/her. Does that one need explaining? Babies are stubborn, and they change their minds a lot. What they love today, they won't want to have anything to do with tomorrow, so breathe deep and go with the flow.

Have I missed something? What would you do to encourage your baby to love books?

Oath's mom


  1. Of course! My 5 month old responds to newspaper's rustle and wants to play with it each morning. I let him do that, only in my supervision.

    I love books and would like him to love them too. Good points. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It seems you have an interested baby in your hands :D Before you know it, he'll be trying to read it as you do (but, maybe, upside down!). I hope you help him turn into a book lover and he brings many more books to your home :)

  2. Moltissimes gràcies pel teu comentari!
    I et felicito pef aquest post q m'ha semblat úil i genial!

    1. Gràcies Cristina!
      M'alegro que t'hagi semblat útil en post: son coses senzilles, però a vegades ens n'oblidem (almenys jo!) i em va semblar bo recordar-les.


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