The short answer is as early as possible. Babies are naturally curious. Anything colourful catches their attention. This is possibly the best time to introduce board books, with one bright picture per page. Needless to say that these books are made in such a way that they can endure any kind of abuse they maybe subject to, in a baby’s hands. What this does is to make books a part of their life, just as food is, parental love is, sleeping is and so on. Books become a source of information, a window to the outside world, so to speak. They learn new words by looking at pictures and hearing the sounds in the voice of a mom or dad. While it helps in bonding, it also instils the love for books early on.
Babies know how to choose!
Give your babies a choice of 4-5 books and let them choose the book they want to see. In all probability they would end up choosing the same book over a period of time and you will call that book, your baby’s “favourite” book. After all they are learning a new language and that needs repetition irrespective of how old you are! Read more on why they do that on “Why Do Children Love Reading The Same Book Many Times?”
Showing a book to a baby is not the same as coaching your child early on for competitive exams.
One may argue that showing books to a baby is as good as pressurising the baby to grow up fast and try to learn stuff that are way beyond his or her age. Yes, it would be if you read to a baby story books meant for 3 years and above. Showing a book to a baby is not the same as coaching your child early on for competitive exams. This is very different as by reading a book aloud to your baby, you are instilling curiosity, setting aside time to spend with your child, to simply have fun and bond over the process.
Babies are fresh and are starting on a clean slate. As they grow, their ability to absorb information from the outside world, only increases. If there is nothing to satisfy that growing need to absorb more and more information from the outside world, it most likely will die down, thus having a significant impact on learning ability in the growing years.
When to stop reading aloud?
It is easy to give up the reading aloud habit when the child starts to read on his or her own. It seems like continuing to read aloud will restrict the move to independent reading. On the contrary, research in the field points out that reading aloud to your child although he or she knows how to read, helps a great deal in enhancing comprehension abilities, language skills, the right pronunciation, a room for discussing views and opinions and above all the feeling of still bonding over parents over an all time favourite activity.
If it bothers you that the reading aloud activity will prevent the child from reading on her own, try converting it to a shared reading activity.
If it bothers you that the reading aloud activity will prevent the child from reading on his or her own, try converting it to a shared reading activity. What this means is that you pick books that have more than one character, preferably two. You could take one role and your child could take another. The perfect books for this kind of reading activity is Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie Series. These books have two important characters who are both equally adorable. The story is always a conversation and hence allows role play. What this achieves is that your child gets to practice his or her reading aloud skills as well as have the satisfaction of being read to. This goes a long way in making children more confident about reading. After all reading is an essential skill that one simply cannot do without.