The best way to help babies become effective readers and writers is to begin by helping them learn to listen and speak. Fortunately, this is usually easy since babies are very skilled at learning language. Indeed, as long as they interact with adults who converse, babies will learn to understand them—and talk with them.
Read to Them!
Simple board books are best for newborns. Books like I Can Say Blanket grab babies’ attention with a single, colourful picture of a familiar object, such as a door or a blanket. The plasticized pages are strong enough to withstand teething babies and can be wiped clean. Cuddled up on mom’s lap, even a newborn loves to look at a book. Even a baby more interested in chewing the pages is learning. Recent research shows that when babies learn the names of a pictured object, they can recognize the corresponding 3-D object when they see it in the real world.ii Babies who listen to book reading learn more vocabulary.
What you read your preschooler will help her understand text years later, like knowing–because you read her the picture book King Midas–why we all want a financial advisor with a “Midas touch”.
Because babies don’t talk back, it can feel a little strange to talk with them. But after chatting your way through a few books, your conversational skills will improve.
Wibbly Pig Opens His Presents. Mike Inkpen. New York: Viking Books, 2000.