When I got pregnant with my first child, one of the first things that I did (to the amusement of my husband) was join a children’s book club where I purchased such classics as Where the Wild
Things Are, Guess How Much I Love You?, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I did it because I never wanted there to be a time that my son didn’t remember being read to.
Why Read to Your Newborn Baby?
There is no better way to bond with your baby than by snuggling up someplace quiet where baby can enjoy the docile tones of your voice (docile is important!) as he looks at colorful pictures or illustrations that engage his attention and curiosity. Reading to your baby promotes listening skills, which you will be thankful for when he starts moving.
As for that docile voice… do you recall the 1987 flick 3 Men and a Baby? The Tom Selleck character is reading the details of a boxing match to the baby in his care in a docile, soothing tone. He explains to his friend, "It doesn’t matter what I read, it’s the tone you use. She doesn’t understand the words anyway, now where were we?"
That special high-pitched, sing-song tone people adopt when talking to babies has been dubbed "parentese." It seems to happen naturally; we make ridiculous faces, elongate our vowels, and though we’re not quite singing, we produce definite changes in pitch. Babies go bonkers for this. Studies indicate that babies prefer being talked to in parentese. They love watching animated facial expressions and are comforted by high-pitched tones. Parentese helps babies learn about speech thanks to the way it slows down vocabulary and accentuates important words and sounds.
Reading to Your Older Baby
As your baby grows, using books is one of the best ways to learn the meaning of words. My two-year old twins are in speech therapy twice a week. The therapist and I use book illustrations to make sure they understand words before we try and get them to speak the words. Books are invaluable tools!
Reading books to your older baby will help him learn unusual words and will give him a sense of what print is and how it is used to read. Curling up with him will give him a sense of security. As your words bring forth new images and stories, you will stimulate his blossoming imagination and instill a love of books.
What Books Should I Read?
Books about the sport of boxing, of course! Seriously, there are too many excellent books to choose from… my favorites are Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (incorporates tactile learning!), Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you See by Bill Martin Jr, and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. So go ahead, pick a great book, and start reading to that baby of yours!!!