I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at a pregnancy and baby expo, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Meeting parents and expectant parents, and sharing information about the speech pathology profession was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I could not BELIEVE how many gizmos, gadgets, and ‘necessary’ items there are for babies; it was overwhelming to see them all under one roof. Parents strolled around with their prams stacked high with sale items, and expectant parents strolled past with everything from nappies and soaps to potties.
I was really excited to be able to offer people entry to a FREE raffle. The prize was a hamper of books, all of which had received an award for their speech, language, and literacy content, in addition to their appeal to their targeted audience. There were books for all ages in neat categories, the first being birth to 3 years. I was amazed at how difficult it was to encourage expectant parents to enter. I was often looked at as if I was CRAZY, after all, couldn’t I see that their baby wasn’t even BORN yet? Yes, the answer is yes, I could see that many people had not even given birth yet, and given the huge amount of products available, for some I can forgive for neglecting the free entry.
I would like to point out though, that it is NEVER too early to start reading to your children, and the benefits are immense. Books provide an opportunity to experience new things indirectly, and expose children to new vocabulary. They provide modeling of speech sounds and language structures. Books introduce rhyme and alliteration, part of phonological awareness that supports literacy success. Allowing your children to handle books from a young age introduces book awareness; how to navigate a book, hold it correctly, turn pages and identify where the cover and text are.
The benefits of reading to children are not new, but why are parents waiting? When should you start reading to your child? It’s definitely before they will be using that potty that was on sale. The answer is, it is never too early. Make reading books an enjoyable part of a routine, and cherish sharing them with your child. I have recently been invited to a baby shower and was sent a gift registry with the invitation. I will leave the walkers, nappies, and play mats for others attending; I will be buying books.
As a mother of a 4-year old boy, books have been an important part of his ‘little years’. We have taken advantage of free ‘story time’ at our local library, and I delight in reading him some of my childhood favourites. He has developed a rich appreciation for books that I hope will continue to grow. After all, as one of MY favourite authors said ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Follow the link below to learn more about Speech Pathology Australia’s book of the year awards and to find out the winners for 2015