Beyond settling baby and acting as a sleep cue, reading offers other benefits. It…

Read to your baby to boost his smarts

Boosts language learning
Children learn through repetition. Repeating the words of a favourite book lays down neural networks in your child’s brain and helps to embed language patterns, vocabulary and memory. A study at the University of New York concluded that reading in an interactive style to your baby raises his IQ by six points. So, as you read, ask out loud age-appropriate questions while looking at the pictures together. Talk about details such as colours. Use silly voices to bring characters to life. As your tot gets older, encourage him to tell you what he sees.

Expand the sounds he hears
When you read to your tot, you stimulate his auditory cortex — the part of his brain that handles sound. He begins to understand the structure and pattern of language; knowing how a sentence sounds becomes intuitive. So, when you read a book with rhythmical text, exaggerate the sounds of the words to emphasis the rhythm. Reading a story every night exposes your little one to a range of language he might not otherwise hear, at a moment when he is very receptive to learning.

Helps him develop empathy
A good story allows even a very young listener to develop his emotional understanding as he interprets events beyond his own immediate experience. This can help a child learn empathy and compassion for others. To help your little one connect with the characters, ask questions and talk about what is happening and how everyone might be feeling.

Boosts your bond
When you read a story to your child, you give him your time and focus your attention on him, and he, in turn, gives his attention to you.

Builds life skills
Reading together has been shown to enhance concentration.
To keep a baby’s attention, choose a book with strong colours or textures he can feel. For a toddler, lift-up flaps will keep him involved.

Shared reading also promotes logic and understanding. Stories encourage children to think in straight lines, because there is always a beginning, a middle and an end.

They will learn that those squiggles on the page represent sounds. If you run your finger along the text, he will begin to understand that you read from left to right, from top to bottom. If he helps turn the pages, he’ll learn how a book works.

Photo: INGimage

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