Baby Brain Connection

Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy


Activities for "Reading"

Reading early….to a newborn?  Remember that children recognize and understand many more words than they can say. You are your baby’s first role model and superhero. During his early years, your child is at the height of his imitative powers, and he will imitate the actions of his parents, grandparents, and siblings.  If your baby sees his heroes reading and involved with books, he will likely want to do the same.

Studies show that children exposed to a wide variety of words have a better vocabulary by the time they enter school. Reading from books together is a sure way for him to hear and practice sounds and patterns of language.

The following activities are taken from: (click “Activities”) by Bronsil; Look Who's Cooing: Help Foster Your Baby's Language Skills by Selk; 125 Brain Games for Babies by Silber; and many ideas from educators and parents.

Target Age: Early Infant Birth to 6 months
Skills learned: Trust, Listening, Sound discrimination, Language Development

Begin reading to children early:
Mother Goose rhymes and songs stimulate language and listening.

Picture books: Select books with short sentences and simple illustrations. Boldly colored picture books with simple words arouse children’s curiosity and visual sense.

Select baby-friendly topics: Choose books about animals,routines (bedtime, getting dressed), food or books with many simple, bright illustrations and few words. Talk about what you see on each page and don’t worry about following a narrative.

Make reading aloud a daily activity: Reading aloud is one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory. 

See, touch, and feel: Research shows that brain areas controlling vision and sensory integration are the first to develop. So early on, try books that have fur and other textures, bright colors, or those that squeak, rattle and crinkle, crunch, jangle, or make music.

Books taste good: Infants explore with their mouths — it’s fine for a young child to hold the book and put it in his mouth. A book becomes an everyday object he feels comfortable playing with, rather than an off-limits treat.

Sing a story: Research from Georgetown University suggests that music and language share the same brain real estate. Once you’ve got a poem, song, or nursery rhyme book memorized, try singing the text while in the car or waiting at a doctor’s office as a distraction. You may be building long-lasting verbal skills, too.

Reading can be a form of play: Don’t feel silly putting on a show while reading — make funny noises, speak dramatically or in “parentese,” the sing-song, higher pitched way of talking to young children that parents worldwide use to converse with babies. Parentese helps prep baby brains for the natural patterns of everyday language. Your enthusiasm demonstrates that books can be exciting and entertaining

Snuggle time:  Snuggle with your baby on the couch or before bed— with a book in one hand and a baby in the other. He will enjoy the sound of your voice. 

Special time: Set aside at least 1 time each day for reading. A good time is before going to bed, which can become a regular routine.

​Target Age: Later Infant 6-12 months

Skills Learned: Listening, Language Development, Sound Discrimination, Classifying,Sequencing

Let your child be part of the action: Infants are interested in pictures, the shape of the book, and holding and touching it. As your child gets older, let her turn pages, point to pictures, name things, and flip through the book in any order. Let your baby hold, drop, and pick up the book.

Naming words:  Point to a picture, and tell what it is.  Do this several times and your child will learn the name of the object or person. As you point out objects, ask questions about them.

Family talk: Find pictures of people in your family.  Talk about each person while pointing to it, and ask your baby to point to it.  Then cover up the picture, and ask your baby to find the person.  You may be surprised to learn how much your baby understands.

Read interactively: It is important to not just recite words on a page, but instead to read interactively. Ask the child questions, wait, and respond by adding a little more information. "Compare and contrast what's in the book. “This is a lion and that's a leopard. How are they the same? How are they different?”

Lots of different books: Use board books, rhyming books, picture books, books that name things. Smile and answer when your child speaks or points to things on the page.

Repetition:  Babies have books they love, and they will want you to read the same book over and over again.Perhaps they like the colors, the pictures, the material, or the story.  The more you repeat, the more brain connections are being established.

Books every day: Use books in family routines such as nap time, playtime, bedtime, on the potty; in the car or bus. You can also use books to calm or distract your child while waiting.

Too busy to read?  Not to worry….. once babies start crawling, they may not want to stop for stories. A couple of strategies: read during mealtime, playtime, or bath time, or even while your child crawls around the room. Keep reading sessions short. It’s fine to stop halfway through, and come back to the book later on.

Bilingualism and books: According to research from the University of Washington, babies' brains learn language from human interaction, not expensive foreign-language videos. If you’re bilingual,you can help your baby’s future fluency by reading books in your native (or second) language.