“How do I read to my baby? Does she understand? Should I be loud? Should I emphasize certain words? Vary my pitch? What do I do if she’s bored” These may be some questions on your mind as you introduce your baby on what you hope will be a lifelong relationship with books. Well, the best answer to ‘How to read to baby is’ -
However feels good to you and your baby. That’s how.
Because, when something feels right, it usually is likely to be. So, to start with, don’t worry too much about rules and how-to’s. Just pick up a book, cuddle up and start reading.
If you still think you could do with some pointers, here’s what I’d do:
1. Start with the cover. See if you can describe the pictures there to your baby. You could say something like,”Hmm..I think this story is about a naughty little mouse. What do you think?” This rouses your baby’s curiosity and anticipation. As your baby gets older, read out the title a couple of times. See if he can repeat it and guess what the book might be about.
2. Turn the pages slowly, deliberately. You could even get the baby involved by asking him to turn the pages. This teaches him how a book works.
3. Let baby explore. At first, baby may not seem to show much interest in the book’s contents. He may be eager to chew it instead. Or maybe he just wants to keep turning the pages or figure out how to hold it. Maybe he’ll turn away when you start reading. Or look at your face instead of the book. Whatever he does, he’s learning. So even if he isn’t listening or watching, keep reading. Which leads us to…
4. Make reading with your baby a regular activity. You could do it at around the same time every day or whenever it’s convenient. Reading regularly is important. Your baby begins to see reading as part of her everyday routine – just like meal time, bath time and play time.
5. Add some drama. Modulate your voice as you read aloud to your baby. Pause. Vary the tempo. Laugh and cry with the characters. Your baby is learning about sounds, words, expressions, feelings and a whole lot more as you read. It’s not just about making her smarter..although that may be a byproduct. So read happily, enthusiastically and with expression.
The only exception to this is of course, when it’s a bedtime story. You might want it keep it mellow if you want Jr to fall asleep anytime soon. Try reading in a soft voice, slowly..almost in a whisper.
6. Keep it interactive. Even when your baby is too little to respond, point to something and ask questions. You could say,” What color is the apple here?” Pause and then answer it yourself. As she grows, you’ll see how eager she is to point out and answer herself. When you read familiar books, give your child the chance to complete phrases, words and dialogues.
7. Have a blast. Reading to your baby could be one of the most enjoyable shared activities you will ever experience. It’s a great way to bond, to help your baby learn and in turn to learn more about her in the process. But it shouldn’t feel like a chore. If it does, try a different book, setting, pace or style of reading. It might take a while for you and your baby to get in-sync with your reading…but it’s sure to happen. And when it does, it’s unstoppable fun.
8. Take your baby to story-times and read-aloud events at the library and book stores. It’s never too early to start. Your baby will enjoy the change of scene and love watching other kids while being read to. And you could pick up some cool reading tips from pros.
Do you have any tips to share about reading to your baby? I’d love to hear them.