Raising well-read and linguistically impressive kids is every mom's dream! Who doesn't love a child who loves books? It gives me immense happiness when I see my 10 month old baby boy affectionately turning the pages of his board books and smiling away to glory! God knows, what he deciphers as he browses through the pages, but I am sure that the practice makes him book friendly, to say the least.
Helping children warm up to books at an early age offers a plethora of benefits. Not only it paves way to nurture an appreciation towards books and literature, it also opens up avenues that are non-violent, parent-administered and child-friendly. Very young children or toddlers who enjoy flipping through board books or sound books are usually more likely to develop into serious or voracious readers as they grow up. The fact that a toddler is happy around books gives a mother an exciting hope that he might soon want to be able to understand the written word and pictures with some help, or on his own.
Science recommends exposing children to books at the age of 4 months.
Since times immemorial, babies have shown a keen interest in books. Their interest in exploring books is often conveyed by way of touching, chewing, grabbing, shaking or throwing them around. It therefore, needs to be kept in mind that the kind of books they are exposed to are safe. Cloth books, board books or vinyl books are some of the most popular options when it comes to infant books.
Usually by the age of 6 months, children try to observe the content of books instead of merely mouthing or toying with them. At this milestone, they must be encouraged to turn over or flip through the pages and glance at the content. Using board books at this stage is a good option since the little ones are able to keep their small fingers between their thick pages and flip through easily. Such individual and autonomous exploration gives their curiosity a much-needed boost and momentum.
Following are a few of the benefits that introducing books to children at an early age offers:
- Language acquisition skills are at their most optimum during the early years. Therefore, continuous exposure to written or spoken word helps children imbibe the language skills naturally.
- It helps them warm up to sounds, words and speaking abilities at large.
- Exposure to books also assist children in understanding the difference between real and imaginary. It also gives an insight into the world around them.
- Persistent exposure to written word helps babies warm up to languages more easily. Reading skills are also better developed when a child is provided with frequent exposure to the written word. Repetition and intuition help them acquire reading skills faster.
- Reading aloud to the kids from a book helps children develop early literacy skills like listening, comprehension and understanding. It also renders them a chance to try and learn intuitively.
- Books help stimulate children's creativity, imagination, curiosity and have a positive cumulative effect on their cognitive development
- Books or stories based on specific places or cultures also help children develop a sense of understanding about their society, culture, norms, etc. It assists them in imbibing the expected cultural norms and practices.
- Gives children a chance to have a better understanding of doing familiar things such as eating, sleeping, playing by looking at the illustrations.
- Books help children inculcate an understanding and appreciation for pictures, colors or art in general.
- It helps them explore more about themselves or others around their own age.
- It stimulates a plethora of cognitive skills that include recognizing, imitating, understanding and sharing.
Doctors and pediatricians often share that by the time a child reaches his first birthday, he would have naturally acquired or learnt all the sounds needed to communicate in his mother tongue. Therefore, the more books that he is exposed to or the more stories that he is read aloud, the greater would be his exposure to the language and therefore, better would be his stint at mouthing words and learning to speak correctly.
As a Mom, I am trying my best to help Baby K become book friendly and inculcate an appreciation for literature, stories, written word and art. What about you?
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