Growing up, I was an avid reader. I would stay up late and read past my bedtime, needing to know what happened next in the story I was reading. As I have gotten older and busier, it is harder and harder to find time to read for pleasure. But the natural desire to want to is still there. I joined a book club with some other ladies and we have a great time. I also married a man who loves reading even more than I do. When I was pregnant with our first baby, we agreed that we hoped our child would love reading like we do. A friend hosted a beautiful baby shower for me and everyone gave a book instead of a card. After my son was born, we made it a point to read to him, even when he was an infant.
Now, as a one-year-old, he loves books. He has more books than can fit on his bookshelf (almost all of them were gifts; there are only a few that we have actually purchased for him ourselves!) and stacks of books sitting beside his bookshelf. During the day he will plop himself down by the books and pull them out one at a time, flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures. Often he will bring books to me, gesturing me to pick him up and read to him. It is one of the great joys of motherhood, to see your child take an interest in something and want you to be a part of it, especially if it is an interest you both share.
The benefits of early reading are well-documented, but beyond the studies and academic ideas, I think common sense tells us as mothers that reading is a good thing. Even if reading isn’t something you personally enjoy or find time to do often for yourself, reading a Dr. Seuss board book isn’t time-consuming or difficult. Children’s books are so much more fun as an adult that I previously realized. The artwork can be whimsical and fun, or even beautiful and awe-inspiring (Nancy Tillman comes to mind for the latter); the rhyming and sing-song nature of a book makes them fun to read, and sometimes easy to memorize; the stories themselves can teach children deeper truths about the world around them.
I don’t claim to be a book expert, but I am pretty proud of having a one-year-old who loves books as much as he does. If you also want to encourage your children to read and love books from an early age, here are a few suggestions:
- Board books. These are usually short, colorful, and the chunky pages make it easy for babies to help you turn the page. My son loves turning the pages, sometimes he even gets mad if I turn the page without him!
- Read the classics of baby books: Goodnight Moon is my favorite, followed by Go, Dog. Go! and anything by Dr. Seuss
- Books that have songs. Sandra Boynton is an author with a few of these, Snuggle Puppy comes to mind.
- Books with matching stuffed animals. The Jellycat book series has matching, soft stuffed animals that go with every book. If you have a kid who loves stuffed animals, or loves of any kind, these books are the way to go!
- Books with rhymes. One of our favorites is Is Your Mama a Llama? It has a fun sing-song tone and is full of cute rhymes