• The "SaY" Magazine

When should you introduce reading to a child? By Sarana Iyer

We all have heard that children who are introduced books at an early age associate reading with enjoyment and value the books to a great extent. Even mothers claim that reading at the time of pregnancy helps children activate their response to the written word more effectively and when the child is born, they response or send signals that they are listening to the story read aloud. How lovely isn’t it!


Many ask what is the right age to introduce the books to a child and how can we develop adequate interest in our little reader’s mind in regards to books.


While one can always read when one is carrying a child in their womb, below mentioned points discuss mainly about the time to introduce the books when they are born:


We all know that we don’t get to sleep enough in the first three months as the child’s circadian rhythm is not set to our schedule. The lack of sleep will push us to be a zombie all through the day and our equilibrium goes for a toss.


So, let’s give first 3 months a complete rest from the books and start our small read aloud sessions from 6th month.


Now that moms must have gained some sense of equilibrium in their busy schedule, lets pick our first books for babies and start reading out few words from them.


Take your own poetry book or some folklore book and read to your child when he or she is having their porridge or solid foods.


They will cry initially not able to understand anything but over a period of time, they will start to associate the time of their porridge with the read aloud sessions.


In the book, ‘The Whole Brain Child’, Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, they have mentioned that ‘neurons that fire together wire together’. So, a child’s brain doesn’t require much time to put one and one together. To give snippet of the saying, Ron had an uncle who got him chocolates after his exams. Now Ron gets enthusiastic on his final exam paper as he knows that his uncle will arrive with a box of chocolates. So, the exams and chocolate box get wired together in Ron’s mind.


Likewise, the pattern of porridge and reading gets wired together, enabling them to listen to your words. Even if it is superficially done, they will pick up the words and deposit them into their subconscious mind only to produce them later.


Once they are able to sit on their own, try to get colourful board books and musical books so that they enjoy touching them. They will touch, gauge the textures, play with the books, put it inside their mouth, try to chew down the hard paper and try to tear the soft paper books.


These are all part of their journey to become a reader.


Like us, they also need time to settle with some feeling. It will take time for them to develop love and care towards books like we do.


So, embrace all their behaviour and do not condemn them. You can try to get lot of illustrative board books around this time which will calm your nerves which will be difficult for them to tear or chew.


Don’t think that your child is destructive and stop getting them books. They will get this behaviour out of their system.


From biblioclast to bibliophile, the road might be different for every child but getting the child books and you reading them along with your child, will shorten the time it takes to reach the latter.


Once they are over 1 year, start scheduling your reading time and do it every day. That is every day even if it is just for five minutes. This will bring them to the understanding that books are important and reading them is crucial in your busy lives.


Now that you got an understanding on when to introduce the books, please come back to this space again to read few of my self-exercised tips on how to develop interest on reading, in your child.


What you do you think? You can reach Sarana at: saranya311@gmail.com


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