During the infant and toddler age a child’s brain is being wired. We can directly effect their ability to think conceptually and manipulate language by reading to them, consistently and often. Books allow opportunities for us to talk with, not at, children. We can communicate verbally with words, and nonverbally with pictures. Infants and Toddlers are at an age where they are learning to associate that pictures and words together tell a story. We are helping children not only develop vocabulary, but identify words to describe and define actions, feelings, emotions and the world that surrounds them.
During the next few weeks I will be doing a series of posts on ways to incorporate books with young children. Some of the highlights will be specific stories that are great with this age, particularly books that have rhythm, repetition and rhymes. A description of why these books are so important at this age. How we should use books with Infants and Toddlers, and how to involve children in the stories – for example when I described talking with children and not at them. I will also talk about how to expand on stories by adding accompanying activities that are meaningful and age appropriate. And finally I will end the series with how to create your own books and why this is important.
Today I want to talk about what some of the benefits to reading to young children are. Language and books are connected, and as adults we often associate books with literacy. So by introducing books to even the youngest children, we can enhance their cognition. We are doing this by incorporating new vocabulary and introducing new concepts. As we stated, children are starting to learn that words and pictures together tell a story. The best stories to use with Infants and Toddlers contain some kind of predictability, repetition and rhymes. This is similar to the need for songs, finger plays, poems and rhymes. Children have a sense of accomplishment when they are able to master something. Hearing stories that contain repetition and rhymes will give them that sense of mastery. Being able to pause and let children fill in words or what comes next will not only involve them in the story and enhance their social experience, but it will also give them that satisfactory sense of having mastered something.
Some of my favorite books that involve predictability, rhymes and repetition for Infants and Toddlers are:
And as they get a little older more for the Preschool age:
The best advice I can give you is:
- Stock up on sturdy board books so that your infant or toddler can access them independently.
- Look for books that offer rhymes, repetition or predictability so that as you read them your child can feel involved.
- Talk to your child as you read. Talk about the cover, talk about the author, talk about the pictures, ask them questions. For example, “Can you find the dog?” “What color is the bird?” “How do you think the boy feels?” By doing this you are creating those strong cognitive connections!
- And read to them often! Surround them by language and literacy.
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