Are you reading regularly to your little one? If yes, keep it up! You are preparing your child for life-long success. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends reading aloud to children for at least 15 minutes a day beginning in infancy. Those 15 minutes spent reading together can be the best part of the day for both of you. According to the AAP, children who are read to during infancy and preschool have better language skills and are more interested in reading when they start school. What's more, sharing a book helps kids and parents create a closer bond which is so important for cognitive and social-emotional development.
Reading to a child doesn't always come naturally
Even though educators and children's advocates have long beaten the drum about the importance of reading to children, it doesn't always come naturally to parents. They may have negative associations around reading and books from their own childhood, or school experience, or be uncomfortable with their own reading ability. If they grew up in households without books, or being read to themselves, the notion may simply feel foreign to them. They may also wonder why it's important to read to a baby who is too young to understand the words, or may be more interested in chewing the book than listening to the story. These reasons are particularly common among parents coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
SHARE STEP makes reading to your baby easy and enjoyable
Fortunately, there are evidence-based practices designed to put parents at ease and help them enjoy the experience. One such method is SHARE STEP, developed by John Hutton, MD, a pediatrician and researcher based in Cincinnati. It's a simple practice that uses acronyms to guide all parents, not just those having difficulties, in getting the most out of reading to their little one.
Snuggle on your lap
Hold - let your baby hold the book and learn how it works
Affection - show your baby that reading together is love-ly!
Respond to what your baby does
Enjoy - most of all, have fun!
S-t-r-e-t-c-h word sounds so your baby can learn them
Talk about the pictures
Explore new word sounds in fun ways
Patience - if your baby gets frustrated, stay calm and keep trying
Keeping it fun and easy with your preschooler
The uncertainties about reading to babies is likely to continue into the preschool years. Dialogic reading is a process that's been around since the 1990's to help parents read more naturally with slightly older children. It may sound complex, but it's nothing more than a fun way of reading that many parents already do naturally. Dialogic reading is for children roughly two and over who have reasonable verbal skills. It's been extensively researched and shown to dramatically build language and literacy skills, strengthen relationships, increase interest in reading and improve overall brain development.