Once Upon A Time.....why reading to babies & toddlers is so important

With World Book Day this week, don’t forget the importance and benefits of reading to very tiny babies and toddlers.

I remember the very first book I read to Zachy at 1 week old, “When the world was waiting for you” - I still can’t read it now without welling up! Yes he was teeny tiny as he lay in my arms and I showed him the pictures and read the words to him, but even then, he was quite entranced.

Reading to our children is so wonderfully enjoyable and both parents and children alike hold very dear memories all their lives of bedtime stories snuggled up in bed with Mum or Dad beside them reading their favourite story for the zillioneth time!

It’s really amazing that children from just a couple of years old are already displaying their particular tastes in books. Zachy’s current must-read every night is The Gruffalo, sometimes mixing it up with abit of “Room on the broom”!

He is now at the point where he knows almost all the words (as does Mummy, wonderfully demonstrated when she “reads” The Gruffalo aloud from memory walking around Waitrose trying to keep a tearaway toddler amused!)

Your toddler makes you feel like the best story-teller in the world, hanging off your every word, giggling & gasping at appropriate moments and melting your heart when they “read” along their favourite parts with you.

There have been frequent reports of late that show two thirds of parents don’t read to their babies and that children are reading less and less because books, comics and magazines are being ousted for other activities.

It’s really sad reading reports like these especially when I recall my insatiable appetite for stories when I was a little girl, how utterly addictive they were for me then and how much I would give to get lost in a book now if I got a spare 5 minutes to sit down and do just that! I want my boys to experience the same magical word of story books.

Books can be a time for sharing together when young, and for reading alone by torch-light in your bedroom once older. Books make you laugh and cry, think and imagine and believe in fantastical worlds and marvellous characters.

World Book Day is a brilliant time to encourage children to enjoy reading. In schools across the country, book tokens will be given out to all children to take along to a local book shop or local Usborne bookseller and exchange for a fantastic book.

But if your child is not at school yet, you can still take the opportunity to embrace this celebration of all things literary and put aside some special time for reading because like with so many things, it is great to start them young!

Do read to even the tiniest of babies – just how I always encourage you to sing to your babies, they love the sound of your voice even if they are not understanding the story yet.

Their senses are developing at lightening speed, and they’ll be amazed by the contrasting colours in big picture books.

Just as with singing to your baby, experts believe that reading to babies when they are very young sets them up for learning vital language skills. In fact, new research has shown babies can decipher syllables even inside the womb, so now you can not only sing to your bump, but also read it stories!