Reading stories to babies from an early age helps them get used to books and encourages their desire to read. To begin with, their favourites will be books in bright colours that make sounds. You can gradually increase the complexity of the books until your child becomes an avid reader.
Reading stories to babies is essential to fostering their love of reading. It is good for creativity and imagination, encourages talking and listening, helps children increase their vocabulary, promotes bonding with their parents and helps them relax at night.
There is no a specific age to start reading stories to children but most paediatricians recommend starting when they are babies, generally at around six months. Before starting with stories, you should encourage your child by talking to him constantly from birth to get him used to listening.
Babies that young do not understand the story or the images, and it may even seem as though they are not paying attention, but it is a fantastic way to stimulate them and familiarise them with books for when they grow older.
Up to the age of around 24 months, the best books are those without much storyline, but which are bright and contain different textures (they may contain fur, bright colours, soft and rough areas, buttons that make noises and tunes, etc.) so your child can explore. The best books contain pictures of everyday things because your child will be able to identify them, and those that teach different concepts or names in a fun way. At first, the books should be made of durable material, like plastic or cloth, because children will put everything in their mouths at this age.
From the age of three, you can read stories containing a few more words, a simple storyline and more complex pictures. Also, by now children are starting to learn the letters of the alphabet and they enjoy recognising them in the stories.
At the age of four, children have good powers of concentration and can understand storylines and words that are a little more complex. The pictures will still be very helpful to the reading, but you can now choose books with different chapters. Storylines that deal with everyday life are usually their favourites because children identify with the characters.
Any time of the day is good for reading a story to children, although reading before bed helps them relax and fall asleep. Ideally, you can read to them every day, although this will depend on your availability. Instilling an interest in reading when they are very young helps arouse their interest in stories when they grow up a little.
Many books are great resources for dealing with everyday situations. For example, if your child is misbehaving and you read him a story about another child acting the same way who ends up learning a lesson, your child will surely identify and understand what he is doing wrong. Books can also help in tense situations, such as on a long trip or when waiting for the doctor.
There are a lot of books on the market for babies and young children of different ages, all dealing with different topics. Parents can choose at their leisure and, if unsure, shop assistants are usually good at recommending the best books for every moment.