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growing up: baby

Babies and Books

Your guide to the ages and stages of development

Reading books to your baby is as vital to her development as a healthy diet and a good night's sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that during well-baby visits, pediatricians prescribe reading activities, with an emphasis on daily reading to babies as young as 6 months old.

Researchers have found that early reading experiences play an important role in the neurological make up of a child's brain. By reading to your child, you actually stimulate brain and language development. Experts agree that children who are read to at an early age will learn to read more quickly and more easily when they're older. A study by the National Commission on Reading found that "reading aloud to children is the single most important intervention for developing their literacy skills."

Reading to your baby will also help him develop concentration skills, increase his vocabulary and teach him that books are pleasurable?an essential step in learning how to read.

In his work with children, Jim Trelease, author of The New Read-Aloud Handbook and Read All About It! (Viking Penguin), found, "Where a child had little or no experience with books, it was impossible for him to have a concept of them and the pleasure they afford."

If you're worried about keeping your little one in your lap long enough to read a whole book, remember, you don't have to teach him to read. Instead, you're simply introducing your baby to books in a loving, secure environment. He's going to start down the road to literacy by flipping pages, eating corners, holding the book upside down and playing peek- a-boo behind it.

"Growing up without books is growing up deprived," says Perri Klauss, assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University. "If we want our children to grow up reading, we have to do every thing possible, and we have to do it as early as possible."

?Tamra Orr
Mother of four

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