Saturday, June 28, 2014

Reading to Your Infant - Tips for New Parents

After reading The New York Times article "Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth" I remembered the first post I wrote for Little Nippers years ago: 

Reading to Your Infant - Tips for New Parents

While I was pregnant with my first child, I can remember watching Florence Henderson on the Today show promoting literacy. I can recall her telling the viewers to read to their kids daily even when they are infants. She said it would foster a love for books and promote communication skills. So being an impressionable first time Mom, I listened to her. Do you know what? She was right! My daughter began talking at a very early age. Before she had reached her 2nd birthday, she had a vocabulary of a 3 year old. My son, who is now in preschool, is currently reading at a 1st Grade level! So, I personally believe that Miss Henderson and all the experts out there who promote daily reading know what they are talking about!

TIPS: I began reading to my daughter during her first month. I found the best time for her was when she just woke from a nap. While she was still in her cradle I read whatever was handy. Sometimes it was a children's book, sometimes it was a newspaper and sometimes it was even Atlas Shrugged! (The book I was reading at the time.) I read until she seemed restless and then I'd pick her up and go about our day. I found that anything that was read with enthusiasm was well received. There were times where she was content for 15 minutes, other times only five. I let her take the lead.

BOOKS: When my daughter was a toddler, one of our favorite books became I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. It is written for children ages 4-8 but it's such a fun book that I would suggest it for younger children too. Curtis uses repetition and rhyme to show children how easy it is to like yourself even if you give a wrong answer in school or fall down and get hurt. My daughters favorite line was: I'm gonna like me/when I jump up so high/I'll twist and I'll stretch/straight up to the sky because while reading this page I would literally JUMP, TWIST, STRETCH and try to TOUCH THE SKY! My favorite line is: I'm gonna like me/ 'cause I'm loved and I know it/and liking myself/is the best way to show it. I highly recommend this book. It was a favorite in my family for years!

Another favorite book of ours is Micawber by John Lithgow and C.F Payne. This beautifully illustrated book is about a squirrel that discovers the wonders of painting. He is quite the cultured squirrel who regularly ventures to the "palace on Fifth Avenue" (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and through the windows he admires the various masterpieces on exhibit. It was on one of these excursions that he discovered an artist painting a Monet which inspires him to create his own works of art! "Using his tail as a brush" he opens himself up to a whole new world! This book is both fun to read and hear! And thanks to John Lithgow, my children discovered words like Rembrandt, Monet and "peregrination"! A MUST have for all parents!
According to the article from The New York Times "research shows that many parents do not read to their children as often as educators think they should." As a teacher I can affirm that this fact is true.  I would say that only 50% of my students have a regular story time with their parents.  A common excuse that I hear is that they are just too busy or that their child won't sit long enough for a story.  That's why I encourage all parents to start reading to their children while they are young.  Establish a regular story time early. Cuddle up with them and read rhyming books with enthusiasm. Children love the way they sound! They will enjoy the attention and in the meantime you will be promoting a crucial part of their development. 

Copyright 2014 by Michelle Fiore

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