How it works:
Determine a convenient time of day the parent can routinely call the caregiver in order to read the book to the child over the phone. The caregiver will turn the pages while the parent reads the book over the speaker phone (or FaceTime etc.).
It is best to call at the same time everyday so the child can expect the call as part of the routine. This predictability is essential for a healthy attachment relationship between the very young child and parent.
Encourage the parent and caregiver to go beyond the words in the book. Suggest talking about colors, shapes, sizes, expressions on people’s faces, and asking questions such as, “Where are Big Bird’s feet?” For babies, the caregiver can point to the picture as the parent is describing or asking them to find it; toddlers can be asked to point to the picture themselves.
Encourage parents to enhance the relationship-building opportunity by giving the caregiver a shirt or blanket with his/her scent on it to hold or wrap around the child while reading. For older children, a special toy or other item that connects the child and parent may be used.
Older children and parents can alternate reading pages or paragraphs to each other.
The importance of reading to infants and toddlers
Social and Emotional Development
Shared reading creates a nurturing, soothing environment that helps babies and toddlers feel a sense of safety, trust, and calm. Books are also powerful tools to help young children make sense of difficult feelings. The experience of being held and read to creates positive sensory and emotional associations with reading. And books are an important way to strengthen the young child’s shared identity with their own culture and to learn about other cultures.
Shared reading engages the very young child’s interest in sounds and builds attention, listening, and memory skills. Books help babies and toddlers make meaning about the world around them. This is especially so when adults make connections between pictures and stories in books and people, places, objects, ideas, and feelings.
Language and Speech Development
Reading books helps babies and toddlers string meaningful ideas together and grows their imagination. Shared reading helps babies and toddlers learn new words and understand the language they hear. Reading books over and over helps build children’s vocabulary. Very young children are also learning about speech patterns when books are read aloud to them.
Turning pages in any form, tracing words and shapes/ symbols, feeling textures, chewing, coordination, and focusing on pages and pictures supports development of fine and gross motor skills.
Readiness for School
All of these developmental benefits add up! Research shows that reading to babies and toddlers makes an important difference in children being prepared for school.