by Lucy Windevoxhel

I am a mom, and as a mom I understand the pressure parents have in today's world to give our children all the advantages to ensure a better future for them. Lately, it seems, early reading is a big issue among parents. As I stated above, I am a mom, but I am also a speech-language pathologist, and my education and my career have given me a different perspective on what these advantages are and how to give my daughter a headstart.

First I want to discuss what reading is. Basically, reading is language, it is expressed through print, instead of speech, but it is language, so the first and most important thing you can do to help your child to become a good reader in the future is help develop his or her language skills. There is a section on the website dedicated to language development so I will not expand too much on this, but the basics are: TALK, TALK, TALK. It is very important to talk to your babies, take turns imitating each other and respond to his/her communication attempts. If you can use sign language DO IT! It is a great strategy to facilitate language development, and if you REALLY get into it, you will also give your child the opportunity to become bilingual at a very early age. By the way, did you know that ASL is ranked among the 6 most used languages in the USA? (some statistics say 3rd, other 4th and yet other 6th). Using music is another great way to enrich vocabulary and facilitate language development. Specifically children's songs, and nursery rhymes.

Reading to your child will also help your child's literacy skills. First you are encouraging the love of books. Babies will play with books, put them in their mouth, and may even look at a book while you point and name the pictures in the book. Toddlers may enjoy pointing to pictures so that you can name them, and if they are verbal they may even name some pictures. They may not have the attention span to "read" an entire book, and that is OK. Do not force them to sit through a whole book, remember the main goal is to build a love for reading that will hopefully last a lifetime. Older toddlers and preschoolers may enjoy stories and you will love being able to finally read a story to them! Regardless the age of your child, reading should be a fun, enjoyable experience, one that will bring you together and that you can both cherish in the future.

Besides learning to love books, there are more things that your child learns every time you read together. These things are not taught to your child, he or she will simply learn them from the experience of being read to:

  • Book orientation: books are read from left to right, and top to bottom
  • Increased vocabulary
  • The words you say are in the print, not in the pictures
  • Stories follow a sequence
  • Reading sounds like talking
  • They will also be exposed to letters, and may begin pointing to letters and ask you what they are

I will continue to post more articles on this subject. In the meantime go grab a book and snuggle with your child!

About the Author

Lucy Windevoxhel

Lucy Windevoxhel

Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist

Originally from Venezuela Lucy has resided in the United States since 1993. While pursuing a graduate degree she received specialized training in working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is a certified leader in the Hanen Programs: It Takes Two to Talk and Target Word, as well as The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS) program and Visualizing/Verbalizing. In addition she has specialized training in oral motor therapy through Talk Tools and Beckman Oral Motor Assessments and Interventions.