A child is never too young for books and reading. Reading stories and books has so many developmental and mental health benefits for parent and child. It provides much more than simply information about the book’s subject. Reading also teaches a baby about language and the world around them while helping them connect in a beautiful way with a parent.
The importance of early bonds
According to attachment theory, early bonds with parents or caregivers are critical to healthy development. A warm, responsive relationship with a caregiver is necessary for a child’s healthy brain development, emotional stability, and overall well-being.
Reading to your child from birth is one of the best ways to show them that you love them. When children feel loved and protected, they are more likely to grow up to be self-assured and content with who they are. In addition, these children tend to feel at ease with others and form healthy connections as adults.
Positive early connections formed through activities such as reading books can help raise resilience, helping the child:
- Recover quickly after adversity
- Develop persistence
- Express their feelings in a healthy way
- Successfully regulate intense emotions
Beginning to read to your infant at a young age may help develop a sense of trust and security, which is the foundation of a healthy personality.
Reading to babies and language development
Language and literacy are the foundations of a child’s future learning and academic success. Reading to your child from the time they are born is the best way to help them learn about language, literacy, and speech. Reading builds up vocabulary and strengthens the child’s capacity to express themselves verbally. It also lays a solid foundation for abstract thinking processes.
Brain researchers say that books with many colours and contrasts improve memory, attention span, and other cognitive abilities.
So, begin reading to your infant from birth to promote brain development, language, and literacy. While reading aloud, point to different photos in the book, show your child various objects, and be sure to name them. Make reading a regular part of your child’s daily routine and include a range of picture books, alphabet books, and nursery rhymes. While reading, discuss the characters and settings in the book to help them comprehend emotional expression and develop empathy.
Reading and brain development
Reading to children from the earliest age fosters imagination and creativity. It teaches them about their existence in a three-dimensional world and how to navigate that space. It improves memory, problem-solving, and other cognitive skills, allowing children to tell reality from make-believe, understand how things work, and predict outcomes. Also, reading books to babies from birth instils a love for reading and learning, improving the child’s attention span and ability to focus.
Finally, reading in early childhood nurtures the child’s social and emotional development, teaching them impulse control and patience and promoting their communication and social skills. Reading promotes diversity and acceptance, teaching children from the earliest age about their own and other cultures’ traditions and encouraging them to be open-minded.
Start reading to your baby from birth to encourage early reading habits, inspire a passion for learning, and help your baby’s brain development. Above all, reading books together strengthens the relationship with your child and promotes healthy bonding.
Joanne Docherty has been working with and for families since 2006, and is the founder of Starra Education. She also teaches at the University of Glasgow.