If you are reading baby books to your kids, then you deserve a pat on the back. If you're not, then get ready to change your mind.
Baby books are happy little things filled with cute animals and cartoony characters. They ooze with bright colors.
More importantly, they teach your kids something.
I will admit to a fondness to baby books even as an adult. I love them. My parents read to me growing up, something that I also did with my daughter.
For my part, baby books helped me enjoy reading even as I grew up. With three siblings, bedtime stories represented alone time with my mom (or dad).
Some parents, however, might balk at having to read to their kids. These are just some of the reasons that parents give to get out of "the chore" of reading to their kids:
Too busy, too tired, too repetitive.
They're already asleep when I get home. There's no time for reading.
But they just want more time on the iPad!
If these sound like something you would say, there is no need to feel guilty:
Only one in 10 parents read a bedtime story to their kids daily.
Additionally, six percent of parents have never cracked a book open with their kids.
However, these statistics need to change because there are a lot of benefits to reading baby books to your kids.
Have a look:
Various studies have shown that reading to your kids help enrich their vocabulary, introducing them to words that they might not be exposed to in everyday settings.
This activity gives them a more extensive vocabulary than merely talking to them.
However, more than just knowing words and their meanings, reading together will help them learn the correct way to enunciate and pronounce words early on.
It can also assist them in mastering the language.
For one, having an extensive vocabulary helps them listen better, as well as understand what they are reading later on in life.
They are also better at forming concepts and have a significant advantage in language competence.
It also has long-term effects:
Babies that are read to will have an easier time with literacy later on.
For instance, if you invest in baby books now, your child will be able to learn how to write his or her name faster than those babies with parents who never read to them.
Further, an Australian study shows that reading to kids at four to five years of age will help them develop their reading and cognitive skills.
Not only do they become more proficient readers, but they also do better in math.
Children who have parents that read to them frequently when they were toddlers also got higher scores on a national test that assessed reading and numeracy at eight to nine years old.
Spending time reading to your kids also promotes communication. You are listening to them, talking with them, and more importantly, bonding with them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that reading baby books to your kids can help make the bond between the parent and the child stronger.
Bonding with your kids also contributes to their brain, social, cognitive, and emotional development. It is also a factor in long-term mental wellness and resilience.
Reading to your kids is one of the activities that comprise child-centered parenting where you have a positive and stable relationship with the little ones.
This type of parenting is based on consistent and stable bonds with your kids, which in turn helps them become more competent than their peers.
They are also less likely to have psychological or mental issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Spending time with your kids, reading and talking to them is an excellent way to make them feel loved and secure.
Note that even when your kids can do it by themselves, they still want you to read to them.
In an Australian study that involved close to 1,000 students aged 8 to 11 respondents, close to 3 out of every 5 respondents reported that their parents no longer read to them.
Among these kids, at least a third would have wanted their parents to continue.
Reading to your children helps them become logical thinkers that can understand abstract concepts, recognize causation, identify themes, exercise good judgment, and apply some degree of reasoning.
A study shows that reading baby books to kids activate the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory and the meaning of concepts and words.
These are the same areas that are active when older children read on their own.
Reading to your kids now gives these brain areas stimulation and practice, giving your baby a headstart in logical thinking.
It is also a great way to know what they're worrying about and assure them that it's going to be alright.
For instance, if they are worried about starting school, a book that touches on the subject will be able to show them that school can be fun and that the anxiousness is normal.
Reading baby books aloud and sharing them with your child can help them concentrate and focus better.
An antsy kid will learn how to stay still as you tell him or her a bedtime story, or when you are at the local library reading together.
Reading books together works so well that it is one of the suggestions professionals give parents with kids who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Getting smarter, being emotionally well-adjusted, and ready for school might be significant benefits, but there's more!
Baby books can help calm an anxious child.
Also, engaging in this activity also help them know the basics of reading.
Children's books can teach them a life lesson or learn how to rhyme. It can even encourage them to develop a reading habit even at such a young age.
The National Education Association reports that kids who have parents who read to them perform better than those who are not read to.
The study shows that 26 percent of kids who were read to know all the letters of the alphabet.
That is close to double the 14 percent from the other group. And, the advantages do not stop there.
Kids who were read to
Kids who were not read to
Know all the letters of the alphabet
Count to 20 or higher
Write their name
(or pretend to)
Source: Facts About Children's Literacy, National Education Association
The short answer to this oft-asked question is that it's never too early to begin reading to your kids.
Fisher-Price's Karen Sokal-Gutierrez writes that you should start as soon as they are born. When they reach three months, they can already enjoy looking at pictures, colors, and shapes.
Reading to your kids helps with their brain development, allowing them to have an easier time building literacy, language, social skills, and emotional well-being.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends literacy promotion from infancy right through the time they start going to school.
The AAP encourages pediatricians to advise parents to read aloud to their babies. AAP members are also urged to talk to parents about what's appropriate reading material.
How should you read to your child?
Make it fun!
Babies are more interested in the pictures, and chances are, they will grab hold of the book you are reading them and then chew on it. That is why board books are ideal for younger kids.
For toddlers, however, some guidelines can help you make your reading together time a bit more effective.
At 12 to 24 months, your toddler prefers what is familiar and routine, which is one of the reasons why he or she prefers you to read the same baby books over and again.
This scenario can be a little frustrating, especially when you have come to memorize every word and you sometimes narrate the story in your sleep.
My personal record was around 300 as my then 2-year-old daughter wanted me to read the same book every night for close to a year.
You may think that your kid is not benefitting from the repetitive reading. After all, if reading one book is a good thing, then surely, reading several books will give you more advantages:
More words learned, more variety, exciting stories, more characters to get to know, and more questions to ask.
Science tells us that all is not lost even if you have just read, "Leo Loves Baby Time" for the nth time rather than a new book.
Some researchers, for one, argue that the reason why reading baby books to your kids help them develop their vocabularies is that they are repeatedly exposed to the same words.
They learn new words by hearing them more often. It helps your kids retain the word and know its meaning when you read the same story repeatedly.
Also, think about it:
They can correct you if you deviate from the story.
Kids know what's going to happen next, they anticipate it, and so if something is different, they will tell you. That shows that they are learning cause and effect or simple chronology.
To make reading together with the little tykes more effective and more fun, you should know how to choose baby books that are appropriate for your child's age.
Infants younger than six months old may be more interested in high-contrast pictures because their vision is still developing during this time.
You might want to avoid books with a lot of text. Baby books are perfect for younger children because of their colorful pictures.
While your baby might not be able to understand the words, they are learning that reading is fun.
During this time, they may make nonsense words or any sound to show their appreciation. However, they might also be mimicking you by making these noises.
After the first six months, your baby can now understand a few of the words that you are reading to them. These are the simple, everyday words such as "mommy" or "bottle."
During this time, it is a good idea to choose books that have one object or person on a page. Baby books that feature pictures of things that your baby is familiar with will do wonders for his or her vocabulary.
After the first year, you can buy books that have some text, perhaps one or two sentences or phrases on every page.
After the first year, you can buy books that have some text, perhaps one or two sentences or phrases on every page.
You might feel silly about trying to mimic a lion from the baby book you are reading but go ahead roar. Your baby will like it and think that it is funny.
Soon, they will return the favor by at least eliciting a snort when they do their version of a fake roar.
At around this age, it is also an excellent time to show your baby pictures of things that he or she may not be familiar with.
Your child is now able to answer you with one or two words, so pointing to pictures in the book and asking what it is can boost their vocabulary.
The best way to choose books is to know what topics interest your child.
No idea? Or merely looking for variety rather than trying to find yet another Peppa Pig book?
To make it easier for you to remember what types of books are perfect for your kids, print out this guide.
This cheat sheet also includes the guidelines for older kids.
There are millions of baby books that you can buy, each one tackling a different subject. Most of them are immensely fun to read together with the kids.
Most, but not all.
There are some titles to avoid!
Allow me to go a little dark to prove this point. I found a book that tells of 26 children dying of unusual deaths with illustrations.
Let me repeat that: death, with drawings.
If that is not enough, then maybe something that tackles satanic rituals might convince you that not all baby books are age appropriate.
They may look like children's books, with the illustrations and the short text, but they are not fit for your little one's library.
Let's not even talk about fairy tales.
If you're at a loss at which books to buy, then you can get advice from other parents and experts.
Author and illustrator Ross Burach teaches kids to greet everyone they meet with a hi-five.
This interactive 20-page board book is filled with funny illustrations that will make your little ones chuckle while learning social-emotional skills.
Having a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon, this baby book is great for preschoolers to older kids. You can buy this title for anywhere from $6 to $10.
With prices ranging from $10 to $20, this heartwarming bedtime favorite gets a perfect five-star rating on Amazon. You can also buy it cheaper in paperback format, with prices ranging from $6 to $15.
If you are looking for baby books that are fun yet have topics that are out of the ordinary, then Do Not Lick This Book* might just fit the bill.
It tells the story of Min, a microbe, and teaches your kids about cleanliness.
Getting an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon, you can buy this for anywhere from $10 to $20 for the hardcover edition.
Yuval Zommer has been delighting kids all over the world with interesting, fun, and engaging books about animals.
The Big Book of the Blue will introduce your children to the creatures of the sea. This title is the latest in a series that previously included books on beasts and bugs.
With a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon, you can get this baby book for anywhere from $10 to $20.
Colors, rhymes, and fun are what this book offers. Die-cut windows will give your kids a chance to guess what they'll discover when you turn the page.
The bright illustrations help engage kids from one to two years old.
With more than 1,200 reviews on Amazon, this book receives a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5.0. You can buy this title for anywhere from $6 to $10.
A classic from Sandra Boynton, this board book is an excellent winding-down-for-the-day story and teaches them the chores that they need for their own bedtime.
If you are looking for baby books for kids younger than five months, then this one is just perfect.
Aptly titled, Look, Look!, this Peter Linenthal creation should be the first board book you buy. It has bright and highly-contrasted illustrations that your baby can see.
With more than 900 reviews, this book has a median rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon. Prices for the board book range from $6 to $10.
A story about a dog that tries hard to be well-behaved when his human is away: George striveS so hard, but the temptation to chase the cat and to dig up flowers is just too much to resist.
Older kids will learn about self-restraint and control, while younger kids will love the bright illustrations in this book.
This book is excellent for reading to siblings and gets an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon. It is available in paperback, hardcover, and board book editions, with prices ranging from $6 to $20.
Eric Carle's classic baby book teaches kids about the days of the week, as well as engaging them with interactive reading.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is excellent for toddlers aged three years or older.
With more than 4,100 reviewers on Amazon, the book gets an average rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.
You can buy this title in any one of its five editions: Kindle, audiobook, paperback, hardcover, and board book. Prices range from $8 to $25.
Author and illustrator Leslie Patricelli helps children from two to three years old get a grasp of what they should and should not do.
The cute illustrations and the easy lessons make this one of the best baby books for your toddler.
Prices for this book range from $6 to $20, and it gets an average rating of 4.2 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon.
Reading baby books to your kid brings about a lot of benefits.
It allows us, parents, to have quality time with the little one. We bond effortlessly, and we can set a strong foundation for communication and a lasting and durable relationship.
More importantly, it equips your baby with the skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond.
In short, reading baby books out loud to your child can help make him or her smarter, more secure, and more emotionally well-adjusted.
It doesn't take too much time and judging from the short list of recommended books we have above; it's not going to cost a lot either. You can even buy used books that are much cheaper than buying new ones.
Are you reading to your kids? Tell us about your experience and share some tips in the comments!