Reading to babies helps them learn language

By: Amie Toepfer
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Let’s talk about babies; well, more specifically, what babies learn when we read to them. We all know that it is good to read to our babies, but do we actually know what they are learning? Here are a few of the things that reading to our babies provide.

Every time you read to your baby, you are teaching them that letters, words and pictures all have meanings. They get to experience how words are used, listen to rich language and learn new words. They also learn that it is fun to play with language. They get to explore and experience rhythm, rhyme and humor during this reading time, which will prepare them for other social experiences as they grow.

We know that books contain wonderful stories that can be read over and over again. When we repeatedly read a favorite board book to our baby, they are also learning this. They are learning that books contain stories and songs, which are fun and enjoyable. They are also learning that if they really enjoy a book they can hear the story as many times as they want. Do not worry about reading the same book over and over again to your child, repetition is good at this stage.

Your baby also learns that if they do something, another thing happens. If they point at a picture, someone will tell them what they are pointing at. If they drop the book, then the story stops. They learn that there is always something fun hiding behind the flap in the book and that all they need to do is move the flap to discover what is there. As your child explores books through touch and taste (and yes, they will taste the books!), they will learn that sometimes the books are the same and sometimes they are different. They will feel new textures as well as see new pictures and colors. They will learn that reading is interactive and fun.

However, the main gift you are giving your baby when you read to them is the knowledge that reading time is a time when they are held and loved. You are passing on the message that you love books and reading, and one day they will love to read on their own.

To find out more about reading to your baby stop by any Placer County Library. There, staff will be able to help you find age-appropriate books for your child, give you reading tips and tricks to make reading with your child fun, and tell you about the wonderful baby storytimes offered at different locations around the county.

Amie Toepfer is the branch manager and librarian at Placer County Library in Colfax.