If you want your child to do well at school, then one of the best things you can do is to encourage a love of books. Children who read for pleasure on a regular basis generally perform better academically than kids who rarely pick up a book. Reading really can’t start too early and it’s easy to encourage a love of books in little ones these days as there are so many innovative and imaginative baby books available.
Start off with board books and plastic, washable books. They don’t even need to contain a story at first – just bright pictures or touchy-feely sections (and sounds if you can put up with the din). These baby books are designed to introduce young children to the pleasures that books can bring in a baby friendly way. Try to make sure that several of the books you buy have photographic representations – a baby will find it much easier to recognise a photo of a dog than a simple drawn image of one.
At first it will be hard to stop your child from throwing books around, nibbling at them, spreading food over them and generally treating them in a destructive manner. However, your baby is not trying to destroy the books; he’s exploring them in much the same way as he explores everything else he comes across. At this age his environment is there to be explored in a big way – it’s how he learns. If you stick with board books early on, you shouldn’t have too many mishaps and once your little one is old enough for you to communicate effectively with him, you’ll be able to explain that books are to be treasured, not mistreated.
Then it’s time to introduce paper books, some of the brilliant story books that are available for young kids these days. You’ll now be able to start reading stories with your little one and this will be a pleasure for both of you. It’s a great way to relax with your child as he winds down at the end of the day and prepares for bedtime. At this stage, your little one may want you to read the same book over and over again. Although this may be boring for you, try to go with what your child wants. Repetition is invaluable at this stage of learning and when your child can repeat the story back to you (in his own words), then he’s well on the way to developing a real love of stories and books.
Teaching children to respect books is easier if you provide a special place for him to keep all his books. A dedicated bookcase in his bedroom is a great way of showing your little one how to value his favourite stories. Very young children will benefit from an open-face style bookcase like you see in libraries and schools. Toddlers and pre-schoolers especially use images to identify their books before they learn to read. The books can all be seen clearly and your little one will be able to find the book he wants easily, with no help from you, a great way to encourage independence. An open-face bookcase encourages little ones to use books and this innovative way of storing books is designed to give maximum exposure of the books to children. As your child learns to read and moves on to a traditional style bookcase (he’s probably got a growing collection of books that need to be stored somewhere), then the open face bookcase can be passed on to a younger member of the family or used as a great place to display his artwork for all to admire.