Preparing the baby for reading

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All parents want their children to have the best possible development and learning, because that is where their future will lie. For this they know that the first and essential thing is to learn to read (in spanish: aprender a leer), and if it is also achieved that the child, develop a healthy habit of reading, will have done a good job. 


Let's talk about how to face the different stages of early development of children to instill in them the love for reading. Teach them to listen to poems and fairy tales, consider illustrations and how to choose books for the younger categories of readers.


But first, a couple of words about why you need to read to children, even those (or especially) who have not yet learned to speak. Reading children's books involves a whole series of actions. It involves looking at pictures, listening to text, and relating text and pictures. Reading with a child is serious work to develop the ability to listen, look and notice details, read symbols and guess meaning. By reading to a young child, we contribute to the development of his intellect, broaden our horizons, answer questions that concern him and enrich his emerging discourse. In addition, reading is a pleasant form of leisure, a way to distract an unruly baby, one of the elements of ritual preparation for bedtime, and also the door to a world of imagination, without which it is difficult to have a happy childhood. If you complete your baby's first stage well, he'll be better prepared to receive the reading books (libros para aprender a leer) you make available to him.

Before you're born

The process of reading with children begins long before the reading itself. For a baby to show interest in books, it is important that he or she has two skills: the ability to listen and the ability to look at pictures.


It is known that a baby's hearing develops in the womb, and even before birth, a baby can hear and perceive parents' voices, music and the sounds of nature. And this is the valuable sensory baggage you can present to your baby even before he or she is born. 


During pregnancy, try to surround yourself and your baby with only pleasant sounds. Often, organize relaxation sessions, listen to good music, talk to your baby and tell him or her stories. And the meaning of the stories isn't as important at this stage as their pitch, rhythm and tempo. When your baby is born, those verses and stories you heard before he or she was born will have a calming effect on him or her, and parents will always find something to say to the little one that will comfort or entertain him or her.

From birth to 6 months


As the baby grows, the parents' repertoire will gradually expand: nursery rhymes, poems, lullabies and traditional songs, fairy tales or familiar poems will be added. The book as it is here is not yet necessary, but some memorized verses will be useful.


A newborn baby grows and develops, and at the same time, his vision develops. This is essential for the knowledge of the world. When, at three or four weeks of age, a baby learns to focus his or her eyes for a few seconds, he or she looks closely at the faces of his or her parents. You can then offer him/her other objects he/she'll be happy to look at. 


These can be black and white images of lines, patterns or geometric shapes, as well as fairly large toys painted in a bright color. Such objects can hold newborns' attention for a long time, and the ability to focus the eye develops vision and improves brain activity.


It's very important to pronounce the names of the objects your baby sees. So, from birth to six months, "reading" is a synthesis of two actions: looking at pictures and objects, and listening to artwork in the background.

From 6 months to one year

The baby is already showing more and more interest in everything around him. It is time to get the first children's book, that first book to learn to read. We are talking about baby books, which consist of a small number of dense, durable and safe pages. In fact, it's all in the pages. Children like to manipulate a book by turning the pages; this, in addition to everything else, is also an excellent exercise for developing fine motor skills. Chances are you'll end up biting the book, that's okay, it's normal. You shouldn't buy too many children's books; two or three will be enough. Pretty soon you'll see that baby is ready to move on and then you'll be able to choose more meaningful books to read together. Choosing the topic of the first book is a very important issue. Still, remember:


The book should have thick cardboard pages and the binding should be of high quality. It is important to make sure that when the child picks up the book, it will remain intact.

The illustrations should be simple. A child at this age still has difficulty perceiving a great deal of detail, nor does he or she understand the complex actions of the characters. The simpler the picture, the more recognizable to the child, and the greater the interest in the book.


Moderate Colors Ideally, if the book contains only four primary colors: red, yellow, green, blue (not counting black and white) The variety of the image again will not bring benefits, but will only tire the child.


Realistic' drawings. The crocodile should be green and the tomato should be red. This is one of the most important points. A child at this age absorbs information in a huge volume, and the contradictory nature of its content is now absolutely useless. The same applies to the appearance of animals. Often artists like to depict animals in clothes, but this is absolutely contrary to the real idea of a cat or a dog, for example. In the future, when the child will already be guided in the world of objects and will understand what is reality and what is a fairy tale, then the cat can be dressed, with a hat and with boots. In the initial stage of understanding the world, a cat should look like a cat: four legs, a mustache, ears and a tail.


Therefore, an ideal book for six-month-old babies is a small format cardboard book, in which each page shows a picture, the words in the book are optional. You simply tell the child, out loud, what is shown in the picture: this will be his first story.


When choosing a book for a six-month-old baby, you need to find a time when the child is in a good mood to put him in your arms or lie down next to you and turn the pages of the book, saying what is shown in them. Such "reading" can become a favorite pastime for a long time, especially when she learns to turn the pages on her own. 


One to Two Years


Generally, books for children of these ages are valuable to them, first of all because of their illustrations, but also because of their small texts that are simple and direct. Such books are simply ideal for learning to relate pictures to text, an important skill that will be useful for the child in the future. At this time children have not yet learned to read, although some who show special skills or an unusual interest in learning, you can try to teach them to read some words or letters, without forcing anything and as something fun. The child grows and his interest in reading continues to grow


Encouraging a child's interest in books is not always easy. Many times a child is only attracted to one page, a particular story or picture in a collection of books and stories, so they have to be read and re-read over and over again. Only sincere interest and patience (sometimes you have to read the same story, sentence or poem thirty times a day) can support a baby's love of reading.


In addition, an important part of this period is the examination of the plot images, and it will continue to be so for a long time, becoming more complicated and changing according to the child's age and interests. For one or two year old children, the images should be quite simple and clear, selected according to the themes: transportation, animals, vegetables, fruits. Thematic books for the youngest respond well to this need.


Periodically, the child will leaf through these books, stop at the objects he or she likes and point to them, wanting to know their name. When the baby starts talking, he will ask what he sees in the pictures, and this will become one of the most beloved joint games.


When examining pictures, not only are objects named, but their properties, actions and stories are described. This develops the child's imagination, builds their vocabulary, enriches their speech, and helps them learn to look at the same objects differently.


Books with windows, with moving and tactile elements are a good help to attract a child to see images. Such publications can hold a child's attention for a long time and increase his or her interest in the book's content.


Reading to one- and two-year-olds is based on illustration. Everything that is written should be painted; this is very important for the baby, because he or she cannot yet imagine a bull walking on a swinging board, but is happy to find objects in the pages of the book he or she has just heard.


Two to three years old

If you started "reading" to a child literally from birth, chances are that by this age you are well versed in children's literature, and the reading list for two or three year olds is so broad and varied that it is difficult to cover in one article. But if you're just starting to read with your baby and don't seem to show much interest in books, you can turn to little tricks.


Choose books for your child based on their interests. For example, if your baby is interested in animals, choose books in which they are the main characters. It's good to always carry a book in your purse. That way, if you have to take your child on a trip, stand in line, etc., you can offer him/her a book to read.


You can also play at recreating the stories in the books at home, as a kind of 'theater', or read aloud to get the child's attention, even if a child is playing or busy with something else, it is good to sit down and read aloud, sooner or later the baby will show interest and join you. It's also important to keep children's books within easy reach at home.


The age of two is also an incredible time, when a child begins to develop fantasy. Children show an interest in creativity, role-playing, and fantasy play-all of which is an immersion in the world of a fairy tale. Playing at acting out the stories, drawing the characters or sculpting them in clay, will help the child maintain interest in books.


Children up to three years old are the most grateful listeners in the world, their thirst for fantasy, novelty and magic is contagious. A love of books can only be instilled in a sincere personal example. A reverent attitude toward books is a good family tradition, one that can be passed on to the youngest beginning reader.

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