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Pages Of Fun: What Your Child Learns From Books

Your child will learn to love reading if you make it a habit to read together on a regular basis.

As an infant, your child will love listening to your voice. He'll enjoy looking at and holding picture books, even if he doesn't follow the story. Before long, books will be teaching him vocabulary, word use, and matching skills--all of which speed his language development. Reading also focuses and lengthens your child's attention span, as he tries to make sense of the story and each character's role in it.

Object Recognition

Children enjoy finding things in books that they recognize from their own lives--they point to a tree or a house, and may even go through the book just to find a particular picture of a favourite squirrel. They learn animal sounds when you imitate the cow and the dog and learn concepts when you point out shapes and colours on the page. Some children learn to read simply by connecting the word that's being read with the word on the page.

Your child's imagination is stretched by reading. Occasionally ask him questions as you read along: "What do you think will happen next?" "How does the bear feel now?" "What is the mouse looking for?" This will encourage him to think more about the story and what it means. Later, he can use those new ideas, emotions, and fantasy roles as a starting point in make-believe play.

Books As An Emotional Outlet

Books also give your child a way to deal with intense emotions and frightening things. It puts those concerns into words and offers him the comfort of learning about characters in similar situations (even if those characters are thinking and talking animals!).

Perhaps nicest of all, books foster a sense of intimacy. Reading together offers your child the chance to have your undivided attention and a cozy cuddle, too.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education