World Book Day: Celebrate stories, Love reading. Books, Brains and Bonding

Ireland is celebrating World Book Day on Thursday 3rd March. It seems there is always a day to celebrate these days, but this is one of the highlights of the year. Books should be like toys:  a reward, exciting and something fun! It’s never too early to start reading to your child.

You can start from the minute they are born (even before if you like). Make it part of your daily routine, like a book before bed or after a nappy change. They may not understand the words yet but it’s the sound of your voice that is their favourite thing in the world. Babies are born learning. From birth to five years they will learn more words and language than at any other time in their lives.  Research shows that book reading actively promotes language development.

It’s not just about reading the text. It’s also about the parent child bonding and interaction that takes place, which fosters all learning. Book reading naturally allows for cuddles and bonding, allowing your baby to feel safe and loved. Reading to babies and children is special time which stimulates their imagination, builds their language, improves their listening skills and helps them understand the world around them. So next time you sit down to read to a baby, toddler or child, turn off the TV and have some quiet time together. Remember you are building your child’s brain.

For babies, choose simple board books. Tactile or touchy feely books are best. Babies like to explore with their hands and their mouths so these books help their language learning for example:

“It feels bumpy….I hear the word bumpy…oh this is what bumpy feels like”. Allow your baby to play with the book. They may not be interested in looking at it, but they may want to put on their head, turn the pages at speed or simply chew on it. It might seem pointless but all of these things are good for later reading and love of books.

For toddlers, it’s all about the predictability and repetition. They develop strong preferences for certain books. These books bring comfort, bonding and familiarity.  Children love to have their favourite books read over and over again. Reading it to them is doing something amazing. It’s embedding the neural pathways in the brain that will help your child learn new vocabulary. Learning new vocabulary is a key skill in learning how to read when they go to school. Repetitive books and nursery rhymes have predictable, rhymical language that catches toddler’s interest and makes it easier for them to remember key words.

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.

This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations.