Question: Why should I read to my baby when she is too young to understand the story?
Answer: A baby is born ready to learn. At birth, the brain contains all the neurons necessary for a lifetime of learning.
However, in order for this to occur, pathways need to be formed between these neurons so that information can travel through the brain.
Once these pathways are formed, your baby’s brain can process experiences and store information for future use when she can talk, walk and interact with the environment.
The more stimulation your baby receives, the better her brain will develop. Reading aloud to your baby is an excellent way of providing this stimulation.
Reading aloud to your baby develops valuable tools for communication such as listening and vocabulary skills. It helps your child recognize numbers, letters and colors. The sound of your voice helps your child recognize emotions. Helping your baby look, point and touch encourages her to interact with the environment. All this leads to social development that is so necessary for success.
Finally, if you read to your child on a regular basis, she will look upon reading as an enjoyable activity — a time spent with someone she loves. In the publication “A Child Becomes a Reader,” published by the National Institute for Literacy, it noted that “even six-week-old babies like the feeling of closeness when a parent or grandparent, or other caretaker reads to them. When children find out that reading with a loving adult can be a warm, happy experience, they begin to build a lifelong love of reading.”
Louise Peterman retired in 2011 after serving 38 years as an elementary librarian for the Indiana Area School District. She is now a member of Literacy Links for Little Ones Inc., a nonprofit organization whose goal is to encourage parents to read to their children early and often.