3. When is a logical age to begin reading to my child?

     Butler, Dorothy. Babies Need Books. Atheneum. New York. 1980

     Freedman, L. and R. Latham (Producers). (1991) Read to Me! Sharing Books with Young Children [Video]. (Available from Educational Productions Inc., 7412 SW Beaverton Hillside Highway, Suite 210, Portland, Oregon 97225, 1-800-950-4949).

     Lamme, Linda Leonard with Vivian Cox, Jane Matanzo and Miken Olson. Raising Readers, A Guide to Sharing Literature with Young Children. Walker Publishing Co., Inc. USA. 1980.

     B. R. Schirmer (Personal Communication, July 6, 1998)

      "Read aloud from the start. Itís never too early to introduce a child to books Reading aloud is the way we introduce children to books. The way we spark their interest in reading. Itís the way we help them build important skills (Freedman, 1991)."

     Studies have shown that infants are able to hear noise, which is occurring outside of the womb. The messages may not be distinct, but the unborn child is hearing sound. Since I believe reading is important to every child at any age, I would suggest reading to your unborn child. Many people talk to their unborn child, why not read to him as well?

      For those of you who have already experienced the birth of your child; you immediately talk to your baby, so why not also read to the baby? Babies love to be held, hold a book as well (Butler, 12).

      Honestly, young infants do not care what is being read. When the adult uses an engaging voice and wonderful facial expressions, the baby is enraptured. Grab your Popular Mechanics or Cosmopolitan, even your local newspaper and give it a whirl.

     For older children, there are plenty of book lists available (see bibliography) which recommend different texts for differing ages. I feel that as long as the adult and the child are enjoying whatever is being read then continue with what you are already doing. Follow your instincts. Read the books that you enjoyed as a child.

     "Before the age of one year, an infant who is read to regularly begins to discover that books have pictures and words; that there is a Ďright side upí to books and pictures; that pages turn and stories have a sequence; that language has many different sounds, tones, and volumes; that pictures have meaning; and that being read to is a comfortable way to get attention (Lamme, et. al., 3)."

      Prior to beginning my research, I always believed that I would read to any child at any age. I never felt that I could cause any harm to the child or to his development. Iím now very pleased to know that experts essentially agree. However, I have not found any literature that suggests reading to children in utero. Some people have their unborn children listen to musicÖ

Thought for consideration:
      As you continue to read to your child, jot a few notes in a journal about how the child reacted to the book. Eventually you could add developments such as; reaching for pages, pointing to pictures, etc.

      (No Author) Beginning Reading and Phonological Awareness For Students with Learning Disabilities [Online]. Available. www.cec.sped.org/ericec.htm [1996-1998]

      (No Author) Read*Write*Now! The Early Years: Birth to Preschool [Online]. Available. www.parentsplace.com/readroom/education/rwnearly.html [1996, July 25].

      Butler, Dorothy. Babies Need Books. Atheneum. New York. 1980.

     Droge, Edward F. Jr., Dr. How Parents Can Teach Their Children to Read before First Grade [Online]. Available. www.parentsplace.com/readroom/authors/droge/droge6.html [1996, November 5].

     Lamme, Linda Leonard with Vivian Cox, Jane Matanzo and Miken Olson. Raising Readers, A Guide to Sharing Literature with Young Children. Walker Publishing Co., Inc. USA. 1980.

Please direct comments or questions to:
Kelly Luke
Parent/Infant Outreach Specialist
North Dakota School for the Deaf
9th Floor/DPI
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505