“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Young children have so many visual aids to enhance the learning process such as videos, DVDs and computers just to mention a few. Reading books to young children, infants, toddlers, twos, threes, fours and fives is so beneficial in a child’s love of learning. Young children tune into words and pictures in books. I share books with preschoolers each week and this brings joy to young students and to us as teachers.   

 As they begin to search and explore life all around them, I begin to think of all the many avenues of learning. Reading to young children is understood by the young mind more than you know. It amazes teachers and parents  just how quickly these little minds begin to absorb. Young minds are like sponges!

Why wait to reap the benefits of beginning to read when your child is four or five years old? Don’t miss a moment or opportunity to encourage your child to read and succeed. Reading to even the youngest of children helps them to focus and concentrate on what you are reading through with content and pictures. Because of different ages and stages of development, length of reading times needs to be modified to meet their attention needs. 

The benefits of reading to your children early in their lives are to develop listening skills, to explore the world around them, to learn about themselves and others around them. Too, children are encouraged to learn meanings of words as well as memorizing words and phrases. This encourages language development. Too, young children are encouraged to use their imagination. Too, spending time reading to your child makes him/her feel secure and loved. Reading to your young child establishes a special bond between parents and child. With infants, bonding is established as parents read to their newborns calmly. This can be done with a nightly bedtime story. 

In reading to your babies from birth to 11 months, search for books that may be easy to wash and clean such as vinyl books, cloth, or thick cardboard books. Set books up where they can be seen and enjoyed. Point and tap the pages so the baby will focus on what is being read and keep the baby’s attention. Too, sitting with your young baby in your lap and looking at books will open the mind of a young child. Older babies like to hold books, point to pictures and turn pages. Be sure to name the objects and items the baby may see on each page.

With your one-year-old child, he/she can point and express a choice of the books they want to read. Putting books out with textures or those that make sound with sound devices are very motivating for your child in reading readiness. Having your child point to pictures, naming them and using a lot of expression in making sounds begins the interactive reading readiness process.

Those wonderful two-year-old’s will want mom, dad or grandparents to read their favorite books again and again! They will memorize it and you will too! Have a bookmarker or use your finger to point so your two-year-old can follow the words. Have your child act out the story or retell the story in their own words. Too, both of you can just sketch out pictures, of course, “two-year-old directed” of what they remembered and enjoyed of the story. Display the story recalled pictures around the house as they tell others what they have read in explaining what they have drawn. Ask your young two-year-old how this story relates to their lives and this is readiness for comprehension.

 Three, fours and fives love to joyfully imagine during the reading of stories. Reading a book to them engages them to use their imagination as they relate to each character in the story and what is happening! Reading and spending time with your preschool children of this age encourages their creativity. Don’t we all love to see young children lean into the story and they get so excited as they predict what will happen next. Young children put themselves in the story because they identify with the characters. This contributes to emotional development and understanding others.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to read to your young child. Make it a celebration by eating your favorite snack while reading together. Make reading a book a day a top priority in your young child’s life. Our community libraries are wonderful in helping teachers and parents to find and pull books on different topics and are age appropriate. Embark on the journey of reading early in your child’s life as they learn, grow, apply and succeed. You will never regret the time you spent reading to your child.

Beth Pinyerd
Classroom Observer