7 things you should know about reading to babies and toddlers

August 13, 2016
  • When should I start reading to my child?
    1 / 7 When should I start reading to my child?

    Karen Katz, award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books including the bestselling Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?answers your concerns about reading to babies and toddlers.

    Karen: As soon as he can hold a book! Start even if he doesn’t understand a word. Eventually, he’ll begin to understand words and that the words are symbols for the objects and that the objects tell a story and that is… a book!

    Through reading, you are stimulating him to see, hear and touch, and begin to get to know this big world that is opening up to him. What is more amazing than the first time your baby shrieks “toes!” and points to his own?

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  • How does reading boost his IQ?
    2 / 7 How does reading boost his IQ?

    Karen:  I’m not sure that reading boosts a baby’s IQ, but I do know that playing with books, looking at the pictures and having a loving parent or caregiver read with him boosts EQ (emotional intelligence).

    Have you seen your little darling suddenly flash a big smile at the sight of his favourite animal character? Do you remember when he wiggled and flapped his hands wildly when you pulled out his favourite toy?

    It’s that sort of stimulation that often happens with a book. Children respond to books at a very young age. They love turning the pages and hearing what comes next. Their little brains are working and growing all the time. And that experience eventually leads to a love of books that turns into a love of reading.

    More importantly, it provides a tool for sharing, cuddling and interacting with everyone in the family.

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  • Why does he want to read the same title over and over again?
    3 / 7 Why does he want to read the same title over and over again?

    Karen: Babies love repetition. They love knowing what’s going to happen next, and they often memorise the book. This way, they can pretend that they are reading the book. It makes them feel like they are mastering their world.

    Why else does everyone have a copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or The Napping House?

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  • How do I get my child excited about the newer titles?
    4 / 7 How do I get my child excited about the newer titles?

    Karen: The best way is to just give him a lot of books and see which ones he keeps going back to – that’s what I did with my daughter. I used to get them from the library, garage sales and hand-me-downs from other mums.

    Sometimes, my daughter liked the strangest books, ones I would not have picked, books I didn’t even like. But I’d read them to her over and over.

    And there are the classic books that every baby loves and have stood the test of time.

    Related: 6 cute baby books you must have

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  • So what makes a good book?
    5 / 7 So what makes a good book?

    Karen: It’s simply the one that your little reader loves. Every baby enjoys different books and, often times, boys prefer varied titles from girls.

    I’ve been creating books  about babies for babies  for 20 years. They like to look at their own kind! I keep my stories simple and very colourful. I also try to make them interactive with flaps and have an element of surprise.

    There needs to be  as we call it in publishing  a “pay-off ” at the end. It’s something that will make the little reader smile.

    Board books are a perfect size for a baby to hold and touch. He can experience it by himself and also enjoy it on the laps of Mummy, Daddy or a caregiver. They’re also sturdy  you can throw one in a stroller, wipe mashed peas off it and allow your bub to chew on its corners.


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  • What if he doesn't turn the pages in sequence? That often bothers me.
    6 / 7 What if he doesn't turn the pages in sequence? That often bothers me.

    Karen: Go with the flow… Books should be fun. One day, he will be reading novels and he’ll know how to turn the pages.

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  • How do you deal with an active child who walks off halfway through storytelling?
    7 / 7 How do you deal with an active child who walks off halfway through storytelling?

    Karen: Let him go off and do what he wants. Reading should never be forced.

    Once they learn to be crawl or walk, many young children don’t sit still for too long! You can continue reading aloud and see if he comes back. Or you can just go off with him and see what he wants to do and do it with him.

    There are so many opportunities during the day to share a book with your baby. Here are a few good places to get him to sit still and read with you:
    – in the bathtub (you could end up with a couple of soggy books, though).
    – while he is in his stroller in the park.
    – lying down on your bed with Baby.
    – while he is strapped in the car seat.
    – while he is in the high chair.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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