DONNA'S DAY: Infants, toddlers blossom with books

Infants and toddlers find positive links to reading if parents start early.

Since last May when our first grandchild was born, one of the primary focuses of my attention has admittedly been on baby Ida. Living in the same metro area, I have happily zoomed in on her first smiles and enchanting coos and babble.

The joyful sounds have developed into slightly discernable first words. Is she saying “dada” and “ball”? “Let’s get that conversation rolling,” I say to myself. “Beyond your jubilant smile or lament when hungry, Ida, tell me what you are thinking and feeling.” I know that time is coming down the road because even now, when she sits in my lap and we read books, she blossoms.

Since she was a wee one, we’ve enjoyed relaxing book time with stories that rhyme (we bounce and rock to the rhythm) — first with the classic touch-and-feel books like “Pat the Bunny,” and soft cloth books, some with crinkly sounding pages. Now the chunky board books draw her in with eye-catching objects paired with words on easy to-turn pages that she eagerly flips open and closed.

Talking, singing, rhyming and sharing books with babies throughout the day teaches language and builds a solid background for future reading comprehension. Plus, coming from a new grandmother, the daily practice of reading provides pleasurable connection time and a sweet bond between generations.

Books in bloom! Enjoy a spring that’s full of reading with the babies and toddlers in your life. Here are some tips:

1. It’s never too early to start reading with your child, even during the first months of life. Your soothing and familiar voice sets the tone for a positive relationship with books.

2. Reading any time of the day is valuable, but encouraging book time as part of the bedtime routine creates a healthy daily ritual.

3. Don’t be surprised when your toddlers want you to read the same book over and over as they begin to recognize familiar pictures and words. Be patient, and thrilled at the same time, as you see them learn!

4. Taking phrases from your child’s favorite books and turning them into short songs, or playful and sometimes silly rhymes using their name, can be enjoyed in the car or other times when reading isn’t possible.

5. Start a family bookshelf within easy reach of your toddler. Be on the lookout for books at garage sales and used bookstores this spring, and request book giving for your child’s next birthday.

Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit (c) 2020 Donna Erickson Distributed by King Features Synd.

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