“Why should I read to my baby,” Tiffany asked me the other day. “She just wants to chew on the books!”
Of course she does, which is why the publishing companies invented board books. Babies have not yet learned how to turn a page delicately, use a bookmark instead of dogearing, or even wash their hands lest they soil the pages of their “A Very Hungry Caterpillar.” But there are three important things they get out of a the books you read:
1) We all talk to our babies. Well, books are like a fresh script. They provide us with words, sentences, and concepts that might not be in our daily repertoire. How else will a baby see a digger, an elephant, or a very hungry caterpillar?
2) Art work. Children’s picture books have become fantastically beautiful and evocative and stimulating. What an incredible way to learn numbers, colors, shapes, and so many styles of art.
3) An important way to share time and space. What happens during a readaloud? Cuddling. A changing of gears, from activity to a more soothing quiet time. A sharing of values. Think of that, when a caterpillar grows up, it becomes a beautiful butterfly. And at night, we bid the moon goodnight and sleep the better for it.
I think these are three very good reasons to read to babies.