The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents that they should be reading to their children – even when they’re small babies. Early exposure to language (from a human, rather than the TV) has a profound effect on children’s development, apparently.
I started reading to my baby (now a teenager) when she was two or three days old. This wasn’t because I was a particularly enlightened parent. It was because I didn’t know what else to do. Her conversational skills at that age were not great, and although gazing at her admiringly was fun, I needed something else to do. So I sat her tiny self down on my lap and read her a book.
I was extremely lucky to have the perfect book to hand. In among all the cuddly animals, bath toys, adorable clothing and baby blankets we received as gifts, a lovely friend had given me a book that was bright, colourful and had the most engaging story and jazzy (African American) use of language (“Nannie and Gran-Gran came inside with their handbags cock up to one side and their ‘brella hook up on their sleeve”). The book is called So Much! and it’s by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury.
The story is about a little boy who’s at home with his mother and the doorbell rings. One by one members of his extended family arrive, and they all play with him and hug him and dance with him because they love him SO MUCH. The warmth, humour and love just shines out of this book and I would recommend it to anyone with small children.