I have asked this question this week in a poll, out of the 51 votes at this point in time, 3 said after the age of 2, where 48 said before the age of 2. Was anyone right or wrong? No, but they might be looking at reading in different ways.
I have been following quite a few coversations on this topic, parents saying you should start reading to them when the baby is still in the womb, others saying only later when they can sit still and listen or when they don’t tear the pages.
The truth is that the earlier we start, the better chance we have to grow children with a love for books. We need to introduce books to them as early as possible. The best first books is touch and feel books. Have a look at the cloth books at www.touchandlearn.co.za, where from very early on baby can experience a book, pictures, textures, and when the book gets dirty, it can be washed. Although we wont read that book, we can still tell a story of exploring, “feel the puppy’s fluffy hair and listen to the bell around the cow’s neck. We get milk from a cow”.
The next type of storybooks would be board books where they can learn to turn the pages, look at the pictures and point out things. At this point, little one’s might not yet sit still to listen to the story, and will enjoy to experience flipping through the book. Rather tell the story based on what you see and point things out to each other. You can also read only bits, if the story is too long, although board books tend to have a very basic story. Have a look at www.facebook.com/liambooks for this next level of storybooks.
After board books, we move on to the paper story books, where you find a big variety of books on all topics. Start with shorter stories with more pictures, and choose a topic that your child are interested in. Visit the library and let them choose a book they like. Read to them every night or more if you can, and have patience if they want to listen to the same story over and over again.
It’s never too early or to late to start reading to your child!