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The RIGHT AGE to start proper reading with a child… 

Investigation and research show it’s never too early to start enjoying books with your little one. Reading to the children helps them get your full attention and for them that is one of the best parts about reading or listening to a story. You could be reading the print or letting your imagination go wild and make belief. No matter what you are reading a child or no matter what age, reading is a great way to immerse them in the sounds and rhythms of speech, which is crucial for the progress of communication and language.  

For all the first-time mummies and daddies who are not sure what to do at each key stage of development the following simple guide will help you be on the right track 

From birth to 6 months the baby’s vision is still developing and little babies see in black and white. Monochrome books are best to develop children’s vision.  As children begin to recognise, it’s best to choose books with little or no text and big, high-contrast pictures. Interactive books with puppets, mirrors, or peepholes are really recommended. Being read helps children see and hear what is around and respond in kind.  Start reading soft fabric books or chunky board books and vinyl bath books. 

7 to 12 months Babies may start to grasp certain words read to them ‘birdie,’ and ‘ducky, ‘midway to their first birthday. It’s best to read books with one thing or items the baby enjoys or is acquainted with.  This benefits your baby grasp that illustrations and pictures stand for actual things. Tactile books help children make meaning as they shake, grab, touch, feel and stroke. Rhyming books are also key to help children remember words and predict a pattern establishing lifelong love for learning.  

Using expression, gestures, reading with your face, hands, and inflection in your voice will help your child interact and sooner or later babble back to you in return and this is the foundation for language development. By this time reading books should beautifully fit into you and your child’s routine and the process should translate into being a ritual done mindfully. 

Offering short, simple, and colourful illustrations board books are the best, as they especially withstand the frequent tasting and chewing. 

13 to 18 months is a fun age as children begin to familiarise and notice the print in the books and that it has meaning, related to the images. However, for children to connect with you, note that the funnier or sillier you are while acting out the story, the better the engagement and response from children.  Seek and encourage their contribution via questions such as “Where does the bear live?” or “What can you see here?” Remember children learn best by repetition, and there will be a time when your little one likes the sound or a picture of one book and this may be the one of the many favourites that they will have. Find new ways to read or act out the book  

19 to 24 months your baby may be able to answer questions with a word, so give your child the opportunities by asking, “What’s that?” Voila! if your child responds you should enhance their vocabulary further by expanding on the thought:” Yes, car. That’s a big green car.” Often toddlers find the familiar routine of reading very reassuring and calming. The same goes for familiar books. Reading the same books saga may continue, because familiarity and routine are key and now, they may not even let you change your reading performance by a single “meow” or “vroom.”  

Please remember that this persistent repeating has a learning advantage as well, it helps children be aware of and recall and remember new words. Thereafter if your pre-schooler fetches the book 100th time hope you have understood how to react.  

24-to-36-month children know that words have meaning and are used for different reasons. They are also able to recognise simple black and white symbols that represent pictures. Point to and name common pictures in books. Children also enjoy the rhymes and have favourite books that need to be read repeatedly. 3-year-old if has been read to from birth would have developed the skills to listen to books that repeat words and phrases and should be able to tune into, remember and recall a particular sound. These would include books that have words representing various environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, and body percussion sounds.  

Children often at this age also like to sit alone and look at books. They like to turn pages one at a time. this is especially great for the development of the muscles in their hands. Children by 3 years recognise that print has meaning, and books have a front and back. They know how to open and hold books and the direction of words in books – left to right.  

Reading is one habit that I believe we need to encourage well before baby’s first birthday.  

No matter what age remember to sit with your child in a comfortable setting, cuddling, or snuggling with a book and bringing reading to life with many of your voice sounds, tone, intonation, and inflection in your voice. Ask, question, and make associations as you go along and at the same time give time for your child to respond. This helps build vocabulary and helps your child link the books back to the real world they see around them and make connections. 


Mrs. Samina Khanyari
General Manager
Jumeirah International Nurseries (JINS)