I recently presented a gift of four board books to a young mother at her baby shower. She thanked me, of course, but later over sparkling cider and lemon cupcakes she naively admitted she just didn’t see the point of reading to babies and toddlers. “It seems like such a waste of time,” she confessed sheepishly. “I mean, they don’t understand what you’re reading about—not really.”
I responded by asking, “But cuddling your baby on your lap is worthwhile, right?”
She quickly agreed. That’s when I went on to add why cuddling with a book is equally worthwhile—maybe even more so. I’ve always found the act of holding a baby while looking at a colorful book together to be a comfort and a pleasure. The benefits of reading to young children—even kiddos who are nonverbal—are many and I shared just a few of them while I helped the new mom load the presents into the back of her minivan.
Babies may not understand everything, but they do respond to sounds and tones.
Being read to helps with their language acquisition. The more words baby hears the more words she will eventually add to her vocabulary arsenal.
By watching your expressions as you read—frowning, laughing, widening your eyes, baby will learn important social development and thinking skills.
Board books are colorful and provide visual stimulation.
Babies will be introduced to colors, numbers, shapes and letters in an easy, attractive way.
Babies who are read to regularly generally become better readers than those children who were not read to.
Board books are sturdy.
Being allowed to touch and turn the pages provides tactile stimulation. Put sturdy board books in a toy box so children can help themselves. My 18-month-old grandson loves to toddle over to the toy basket to retrieve a book.
Don’t worry if your infant or squirmy toddler doesn’t understand everything you are saying. Reading together is a wonderful, shared activity that you to enjoy. So go ahead—cuddle, connect, communicate. You’ll make memories you’ll treasure in the years to come.
Shirley Raye Redmond is the author of Lead the Way and Stand Strong two new board boks that introduce little ones to real-life heroes of the faith whose courage and conviction changed the course of history. You can check out these and other children’s books from Shirley here.