If stats are to be believed, only a small number of us read to our kids every day. But making this your new habit will benefit your baby no end.
From the classic Goldilocks to the retro Very Hungry Caterpillar and the can’t-escape-it Peppa Pig, there’s plenty of kiddie lit to choose from.
But according to research, only 30 per cent of UK parents read to their children every day.
However, not only is this a cheap, easy way to keep your little one entertained, she’ll get loads of benefits.
‘Stories give your baby confidence, creativity and a love of language, and inspire a lifelong appreciation of books and reading,’ says Charlotte Collins, co-founder of Debutots, which specialises in interactive storytelling classes.
And whatever reading matter you choose, there are fail-safe ways to make it a never miss for you both.
Pick a favourite
Babies thrive and learn by repetition, so don’t be surprised if she reaches for the same book every night.
‘Choose baby books you’re going to enjoy reading,’ says Charlotte. ‘You want it to be fun for both of you, so if there’s a story that annoys you, put it to one side.’
Get on the retro bandwagon and choose something you used to like as a kid – everyone loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Your baby will get a lesson in great design, too.
Many baby books have buttons, flaps and mirrors to grab your baby’s attention, so encourage her to play as you read.
Let her turn the pages and feel the books, especially textured ones
‘Let her turn the pages and feel the books, especially textured ones,’ says Charlotte. ‘Toddlers engage with animals, so pick books where you can do sounds, actions and encourage him to join in.’
Using puppets or teddies can help you tell the story. As can swallowing your pride – there’s an actor waiting to emerge from us all.
Use your voice
Babies are good at picking up on the tone of your voice, so use pitch and speed to build up tension or excitement. ‘Just think about what the character is doing and make your voice match,’ says Charlotte.
So if he’s tiptoeing, whisper, and if he’s shouting, raise your voice. Talking in a different way will grab your toddler’s attention and keep him interested.
Books at bedtime increase brain power
Research by Equazen suggests that reading a story to your children at bedtime can boost their brain power, accelerate accademic achievements, and reduce the risk of behavioural problems.
A new report, SOMETHING FISHY ABOUT READING, authored by Philip Calder, Professor of Nutritional Immunology at the University of Southampton and an advisor to Equazen and independent dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, included the findings:
Reading alters the way we think
Reading improves blood flow to the brain
Tablets, Kindles and other devices may lead to ‘digital brain’ and reduced concentration
Reading improves academic performance
7 out of 9 trials show that children benefit from supplements of long chain omega-3 fatty acids
Children who struggle with reading are more likely to develop behavioural problems
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation produces “significant” improvements in children who have underperformed in reading tests.
The best children’s books for storytime
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (Macmillan, £6.99)
This book is undoubtedly the number one modern children's classic. It’s a publishing phenomenon, has sold over three million copies worldwide, been turned into a TV adaptation and led to numerous merchandise spin-offs (Trunkis, duvets, onesies…you name it). But it’s the simplicity of the fable-like story – a clever mouse escaping the clutches of other woodland animals – and the colourful characters and wonderful illustrations by Axel Scheffler that make it a firm family favourite.