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Reading to Babies from Birth

Emily By Emily Published on November 5, 2015

This isn’t an article about paper vs. digital. Initially, I thought about taking up the argument of why paper books are best for kids, but I quickly moved away from this idea after reading about the merits of digital stimulation for young minds. Maybe in a later installment …

We introduced story time when our son was three months old to establish at least one routine activity (eating was at no set time, and sleeping wasn’t – and still isn’t – his thing).

We had a few laughs and raised eyebrows directed at us. Three months is apparently a little young for bedtime stories in most people’s books. At first, the reading was more for us, though: a sort of calm before the storm.

Then one night, I watched my husband read to our son. I can’t say he was sitting quietly and listening to his father, but I could see his eyes light up as the pages turned and his attention pick up as my husband’s voice changed pitch or tone. I could see that we were doing something right.

The weeks passed, and story time became more and more of an institution in our household.

As I observed the interaction between parent, child and book, I began to see that it was different from the way we interact with him at mealtimes, playtimes or bedtime. We have a tendency as parents or adults to speak slowly to babies and to adapt our language and tone. As much as they hear us speaking among ourselves, our adult conversation isn’t directed at them and could even be called background noise from their point of view. Having a story read to them – in other words, having “adult language” directed at them – is another way for them to absorb language, not to mention some one-on-one time completely devoted to them. Who doesn’t love that?

After observing story time, I decided to do some research and found out that I wasn’t the only parent who felt this way. According to numerous parenting groups, pediatricians and studies, reading aloud to babies from birth is to be encouraged. It’s said to enhance speech development and increase their interest in reading and learning to read. Picture books, puppet books, rhymes and songs are great for infants.

In an age when technology is plentiful but time is precious, I hold story time dear, reading aloud, letting my son turn the pages and see the illustrations. There are no high-pitched jingles, no flashing lights and no remote controls.

My top books so far:

  • Bedtime Stories: Follow the Finger Trails (Campbell Books)
  • Arthur et son dinosaure (Casterman)
  • Animal Rhymes by Tony Ross (Andersen Press)
  • Bedtime Rhymes by Tony Ross (Andersen Press)
  • Boynton’s Greatest Hits by Sandra Boynton (Little Simon)
  • The Gingerbread Man (Child’s Play)
  • Clap Your Hands (Aura)
  • There’s a Wocket in My Pocket! by Dr. Seuss (Bright and Early Books)

With 10 years in the publishing industry and 35 years of enjoying all types of books, I can safely say that I am a certified book lover. Language, linguistics and education is the domain I am ... Show More