We have a busy eight-month-old. He’s surrounded by books all the time because of what we do. Some of our reading sessions with him have been pure torture so I thought I’d just share a few tips on how to keep their attention and launch that early love of reading.
Five tips for reading with babies
- Let them lead the way. We get three of four books out and sit with him as he picks them up, chews them, drools on them, tries to turn the pages. Some days I don’t try to get through a story with him, we look at pictures and I chat to him about the stories.
- Read with enthusiasm. I’m a Geordie, I’m either very high pitched or quite low of tone, I don’t think we massively go in for enthusiastic book reading. Anyway, I’ve started to channel my inner TV presenter and so really go for it when I’m reading. Of course, he LOVES it. Wait til your house is empty and give them your full vocal range.
- Read around them. Babies are busy. They’ve got a lot of baby business to attend to and often don’t have time to sit and listen. I usually let ours carry on with his important work of chomping and hitting things and read close to him. He doesn’t look like he’s paying attention, but I believe it’s going in. And sometimes I’m rewarded by him stopping and giving me a smile mid book. It’s all worth it.
- Rhythm and rhyme. A bit of a beat to the words and a simple rhyme goes down an absolute treat. Keep reading the same books to them regularly and as they grow, they can anticipate what’s coming next and start to join in with the bits that they know. Our baby gives us a wrist twirl when it’s a story he likes. So Much by Trish Cooke is a favourite in our house and we try and include lots of this kind of book in our 0-3 boxes.
- Bedtime. If it’s not going to work and the witching hour is in full swing, don’t feel bad about skipping the story. We do last milk and then a small cuddle and a story, sometimes. We’re just getting to this point in the routine after months of baby survival. When it works, it’s lovely. If we get through a small very calming board book that doesn’t get him jazzed up for bedtime, and he starts to rub his eyes and look sleepy, I feel like mother of the year. More often than not, I’ve got a wiggling, furious angry person, fighting sleep and I’m shouting disjointed words from the story, hoping some of them will land in the right parts of his brain.
Every little helps…
It’s not an easy thing to do but is really worth it. It is said that reading with children is the single best thing you can possibly do for them. Forget everything else, (except for vegetables, they need them),just get the stories into them in whatever way you can…