Raising Readers in Story County

When is my baby ready for talking, singing, and looking at books?

Do start introducing books soon after your child is born, just for short times and only as long as he's interested. Babies learn to associate reading with things they love best-the feel, sound, and smell of their special adults. In the first six months, books help babies hear language and develop motor skills like focusing their eyes and holding their heads upright. From six months to one year babies begin sitting up, handling books, and turning pages. Sturdy board books with things to touch, flaps, and music are good. They develop mind skills such as recognizing pictures, vocalizing and patting pictures, and becoming familiar with stories. The first year is a crucial time for emotional development, and cuddling and reading together is an excellent way for an adult and child to bond. A newborn's brain has 100 billion neurons, yet is one-quarter adult size. The brain grows to about 80 percent of adult size by three years and 90 percent by age five. Putting off reading until you think your child is old enough to understand the books could result in missing a critical ready-to-learn time and shortchanging your baby. Start early to reap big dividends later.

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