Getting in the habit of reading and conversing with your child from birth will help them develop critical language skills.

Babies: When babies are first born, they are packed with reflexes. They look at sources of light and gaze at human faces (especially eyes). These behaviors are the building blocks of intelligence.

Reading to a newborn can be quieting for both baby and parents. Babies will look at the pictures and hear your soothing words. Board books and rhyming books will do nicely.

Babies like looking at pictures of faces, even the Charlie Brown Peanuts characters! It is easy to find books with baby faces.

Language: It’s generally understood that reading out loud and talking to children will help language development. Converse with your infants, read to them; answer children’s questions, and listen to what they say. These activities build language skills that will transfer to reading.

When parents engage, children become more interested in language and become familiar with words they like to hear. It’s a pleasurable experience.

Learning to read starts by listening to words being said, and when it’s connected to pictures, it is visually stimulating and creates curiosity.

Toddlers: Reading with toddlers is a great joy for both the toddler and adult. Toddlers have better-developed personalities and giggle when they see something funny. When you can be dramatic and silly, and toddlers associate joy with books.

Toddlers like rhyming words and singing. It’s easy to find great rhyming books. Find books with big, detailed illustrations of familiar scenes to hold their attention.

Now is the time to get your child a library card so they can check out the books they choose.

Preschool: These kids still delight in looking at picture books, and they may demand the same book read repeatedly. Repetitive reading is important. It helps them remember the words, and builds vocabulary and confidence.

Elementary School and Beyond: Children still love to be read to, and while many picture books and chapter books will capture their eyes, you can read books with fewer pictures. A move to novels involves essential listening skills, and the stories will drive children to those books.

And don’t forget middle schoolers. They also benefit from being read to.

So, enjoy the day… and read to your babies and beyond!

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