Reading to children can sometimes seem a bit thankless. 'Are you even listening?' or 'Stop ripping the pages!' are less-than-helpful comments that I've heard myself coming out with. But getting kids reading plays a huge factor in determining their life outcomes and it's much easier when you pick titles that cater closely to their age. Here's our guide to help make kids life-long bookworms, and from day dot:
Getting kids reading plays a huge factor in determining their life outcomes.
BEFORE THEY'RE HERE: INTRODUCTIONS
A 2013 study by the University of Washington in Seattle found babies who were read to in the womb were able to differentiate between their mum’s voice and others around them. So, if you’re on board, give it a try. Pick a kids’ classic, give your bump a rub and feel those little kicks that say: 'Keep reading, I'm listening!'
0-6 months: HIGHLY CONTRASTING
It’s never too soon, but at this age it's more about the visuals. It's a fact that newborns engage better with black-and-white geometric shapes, so start with monochrome choices to get them hooked. Happy Little Doers' Sensory Flashcards are perfect for this stage. Lay them out on the floor during tummy time, prop them up while they are chilling in their chair, or even take them out on journeys in the pram for some reading and sensory fun on the go.
6-12 months: SENSORY EXPLORATION
Black and white books and cards will see you through a good few months, but when they've mastered focusing, they’re ready to appreciate colour too. Paper books are still out of bounds, so invest in some soft books, which they can chew and tug at to their heart’s delight. Then, when you can finally prize it out of their hands, read it to them. Soft books often have ties and loops so you can fasten them on to the pram, car seat or bouncer ready for them to take a look when they have the urge.
Good baby books are designed to stimulate all their senses and we're currently in LOVE with Jo & Nic's Crinkly Cloth Books, a whole range of titles that crinkle like the crinkliest things ever and fold up like old style newspapers. (Remember those?)
1-3 years: GET INTERACTIVE
Toddlers love to act out (and act up, but we aren't talking about that right now!) So use role play to get them interested and keep them coming back for more. Got a book with an animal in it? Make up a story sack with a mini plushie that will have them acting out the story even as the final page is turned. Alternatively, pick up a book with flaps or fingerplay that harnesses toddler energy for good.
Five minutes of bedtime reading does them (and you, believe it or not!) a world of good.
3 years+: THOUGHT-STARTERS
We know what it's like at the end of the day, the mayhem of the bedtime routine is finally coming to an end and you just want to tuck them in and go have your tiny slice of peace... but five minutes of bedtime reading does them (and you, believe it or not!) a world of good. It's a great time to discuss ideas big and small. Start giving them the freedom at this stage to pick a story book and then snuggle down to enjoy it together in bed or a chair. Bookspeed's innovative titles with irresistible graphics are just right for exploring real-world issues and emotions too - which can be a great way to explore 'big' feelings like anger or sadness in a calm and cocooning way.
We hope this has been useful. If you need any advice on the best books or toys for any stage, or any help at all, just pop us a message on Live Chat. We're here 9am - 5pm every weekday and we'll do all we can to set you on the right track. Just hit that purple button, bottom right. And if you want to create the perfect reading spot for you or them? Read our guide to Creating An Inspiring Reading Nook.