I started out this post by writing about how important it is to talk, sing, and read to your baby, about the research that supports these activities, and the research about screen time. But I felt like I was lecturing. I would rather just talk about my own experience. There are a lot of books to consult, such as Growing a Reader from Birth and Bright from the Start. We just received Mem Fox's Reading Magic . Fox includes her Ten Read-Aloud Commandments. They are all wonderful but my favorite are the first three:
1. Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.
2. Read at least three stories a day: it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.
3. Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and donít be dull, or flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun and laugh a lot.
Read with enthusiasm and love and the path to literacy will begin in the most positive way. I remember catching myself--and I still do--when I was trying to race through a book as she was fussing. Then I remembered the whole point of doing this was for her, not me! And if she wasn't enjoying it, I should just stop and move on to what she needed.
When my daughter was very young, I could read long books to her: Black Beauty, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. These were books my mom read to me when I was young, that I read with my siblings. I was aching to read them to her! She slept so much and was a captive audience. She couldn't move or reach, spindle, mutilate or chew on the book. She didn't yet delight in tearing pages. She could only listen to my voice and words. As a newborn her eyesight wasn't developed enough to even see the pictures. I tried to get her the board books with baby faces and black and white illustrations, but selfishly I preferred to read out loud in our comfy chair, to settle in, rather than turning the pages of a very short book to a baby who didn't evince any interest.
Now that she is ten months old I give her a board book to handle and chew on as I am reading to her. I was frustrated when I was reading to her that she would grab for the book, try to destroy it, even though I knew this was a good thing developmentally. She has an attention span now. She won't sit for chapter after chapter like she did in her baby monkey stage.
But we read three books to her every night.