One of the most important things your baby will ever do is learn how to read. While walking and talking grab most of the headlines, it is reading which perhaps most dictates the level of your child’s success for the rest of their life. Numerous studies have highlighted the impact that early years’ reading levels have on, amongst other things, lifelong earning potential.
But in today’s modern world filled with all manner of smart devices, it’s harder than ever to focus a child’s attention on something as simple and seemingly old-fashioned as a book. Kids are easily enticed by the quick-reward system of apps and games, which, while keeping them quiet and occupied, come with many worrying side-effects, as experts have warned.
Experts also recommend that the earlier you start reading to your baby, the better. So how can we best entice a baby to fall in love with reading before the allure of bright flashing lights and sounds stakes a claim for their attention? One powerful soldier in this battle is the personalized book.
Make Your Child the Center of Attention
As you probably know, the first, hardest and most important part of teaching your child how to read is to get them fully engaged and concentrated on the book in front of them. They won’t be able to reap the rewards of learning to read if their mind and attention is elsewhere. Without a doubt, the best way to accomplish this is to make them the focal point of the reading process. Kids, and particularly babies, crave attention, and therefore need to be sure that reading time is all about them, not you!
Personalized books are perfect for this, as pretty much all of them feature your baby’s name on the front cover, immediately reassuring them that this is a time to focus on them. Some personalized baby books go a step further, making the entire contents of the book about your child, keeping them fully front and center from the beginning to the end. And, if having their name printed on the cover of a book isn’t enough, many personalized books also include a photograph on the first page – not only can they see their name in print, but also their own picture!
Studies have shown that toddlers (and parents too) register “significantly higher overall frequencies of smiles and laughs” when reading personalized books over even their favorite non-personalized books, and also highlight an increased level of vocal activity during the read.
A Complete Learning Experience
With selecting and reading baby books, there are generally two potential routes to go down. First, the educational option, with books that teach your baby their ABCs, counting, shapes and nursery rhymes. These of course are tried and tested over generations, and all provide essential building blocks in your baby’s early development.
The second avenue is a more personal route, with books that are based around the child themselves, usually presenting them as a princess or superhero, or maybe even relaying some facts about them, such as when they were born or who their mommy and daddy are. These books help to make your child feel special, fostering confidence and self-esteem.
Ideally, you’ll want to combine the more traditional alphabet and numbers books with a sprinkling of those that focus directly on the child. This variety will help keep your baby engaged and interested while offering a well-rounded learning experience, benefiting not only their cognitive and linguistic development but also their character.
Make the Most of Reading Time
Personalized books provide an instant boost to your baby’s engagement levels and overall results from the reading experience, but there are also some other things you can do to really get the most out of reading time. Here are just a few:
1. Choose a Suitable Venue
Choosing the right place is vital in order to coax both your child and yourself into the correct mindset for reading. Select somewhere relaxing with minimal (ideally zero) distractions. An easy gauge is to remember the three Cs: cozy; comfortable; calm.
2. Get into a Routine
Consistency is key. Read at the same time every day, and stick to it every day. This isn’t a quick fix crash course, but a lifelong journey for your child, and it’s completely down to you to make sure they get off to the best possible start.
3. Choose Baby-Friendly Books
Choose books that are suitable for your child’s age group and reading level. For example, board books are ideal for babies aged 3 and under, as their rounded edges and thick cardboard pages make them safer and more durable.
4. Have Fun!
Reading time doesn’t have to be a chore! When else do you have a genuine excuse to utilize funny accents or perform barnyard animal noises at the top of your voice? Go nuts! The more you enjoy yourself, the more your child will too.