By: Natalia Mirkowicz
A common misconception among families is that literacy education starts during the school years. Yet, research shows that starting to read and speak to newborns already begins to impact the way the brain develops and begins to organize language. Many parents prioritize speaking to their infants as much as possible. However, one area that can be overlooked is the impact of reading and storytelling with young children, and even infants.
Building a ritual in the parent-child relationship
One major benefit of starting the practice of reading and storytelling from infancy and even before, is that it becomes a ritual in the parent-child relationship. If this shared time can become a normal part of the family routine, for example before bedtime, then it is more likely to continue even as schedules shift and life gets busy. It becomes a cornerstone, that both parents and child can count on, as much as eating breakfast or putting on pajamas for bed.
Making a reading a priority
Another plus, is modeling a desired interest in literature. Children are wired to mimic and absorb what their caregivers are doing. Babies smile when we smile, toddlers repeat back words or phrases they hear parents often saying. This can be applied to reading and storytelling as well. If kids see parent’s actively reading and making a reading a priority in their schedule, then they will be more likely to pick up a book on their own.
Narratives in books are powerful
Books are powerful tools in teaching language, interpersonal and critical thinking skills for children from a young age. However, parents can instill these literacy skills even without a physical book on hand. They can begin to share stories and encourage their children to create fictional as well as non-fictional narratives to share. This allows children to have their need met for connection and attention from parents, as well as begin to actively practice these skills.
All of these habits and tools can begin to help children from a young age, associate reading and literacy skills as highly positive. Children can begin to see books as individual hobbies and relational, as ways to learn and express their own creativity, and as something to rely on even if there are periods of transition or uncertainty in life. Parents, with some consistency, genuine passion and a little planning, you can begin to raise little book lovers in your own home.