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How phonics can help your child's reading skills

Improve Literacy Newsletter

11 August 2008 - Issue 8

Hi there!

This month we are going to be looking at the benefits of reading to your newborn baby. A lot of new parents think it's a waste of time reading to their baby, as they think they can't understand anything anyway. However, experts agree that babies are never too young to benefit from being read to.

Let's get right into it!

1. Why you should read to your new-born baby
2. The benefits of reading to your baby
3. Baby reading websites we recommend
4. A few good books to read to your baby
5. The Improve Literacy website

1. Why you should read to your new-born baby

The vast majority of paediatricians and child psychologists agree that it is never too early to start reading to a child, and that it is an essential building block in a child's development. Some even advise that parents should talk to their unborn child in the uterus, to get them used to the sounds and rhythms of their voice. There is no doubt that young babies naturally find comfort in their mother's voice, so it stands to reason that regular communication with them would provide a positive stimulus for learning.

Children learn a language best when they are infants and toddlers. This is when the brain is developing at an amazing rate, allowing them to learn both the written word and spoken word at the same time. However, even before this stage, we often underestimate their ability to process information and learn. Begin reading to your baby as early as possible, and know that you are laying the foundations for reading success.

2. The benefits of reading to your baby

There are countless benefits of reading to a newborn baby. We have listed 10 important ones here:

- It stimulates brain development
- It encourages early learning acquisition
- It makes learning fun and interactive
- It promotes listening skills
- It gets them used to everyday conversation
- It introduces them to the world of books, and its conventions
- It promotes bonding between parent and child
- It increases attention span
- It gets them used to sounds, rhymes and rhythms
- It helps them derive meaning from pictures

3. Baby reading websites we recommend

Below are a selection of websites we recommend, which focus on the subject of reading to your baby.

Read to your Baby

A useful reference website packed full of useful tips and advice on reading to your baby. Also lists recommended titles, related news and events (all in the United States) and helpful resources for parents with newborns.

Baby Classroom

Offers a huge inventory of educational baby books and DVDs at reasonable prices. They personally review the products they carry in their online store. Useful best sellers and new items lists on the homepage.

Kids Health

The Reading section of the Kids Health website is an information-rich resource for parents with babies, giving detailed advice in an easy-to-use tab format.

Baby Center

An exhaustive resource of all things baby-related. The site is structured by development stage, and has tools, articles, ask-the-experts, forums and an online store.

BBC Parenting

This section of the UK's BBC website contains lots of valuable information about parenting and babies. The books section is small, but has reliable information about which books to choose for different age groups.

4. A few good books to read to your baby

These are a few classic storybooks that are perfect for reading with your baby. The reviews are taken from the website.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
The Rainbow Fish is a beautiful book, in terms of story and illustrations. Babies will enjoy the lovely drawings in calming colors and the fish's sparkling scales. Parents will love the message this book teaches about sharing. The Rainbow Fish is an excellent bed-time story book, too, thanks to the restful colors and soothing text. The sparkling scales also look great by night-light.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This classic book has sold more than 12 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. The story of a caterpillar's journey to becoming a butterfly, and his many meals in between, is a favourite for babies and parents alike. Younger babies will like the bright colors and simple pictures. Toddlers can sharpen their new-found counting skills by counting their way through the caterpillar's snacks.

Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
A perfect bed-time story, this book follows a young rabbit as he says goodnight to anything and everything to try to avoid sleep. The rhyming text makes it a great choice for younger babies. Toddlers may identify with the bunny's desire to stay awake, but will soon find themselves calm and ready for bed thanks to the soothing poetry and pictures that progress from evening to night.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Babies will love to touch this book and follow along with the activities such as patting the bunny and playing peek-a-boo. The interesting textures and smells will hold baby's interest during story time or even on a car trip. One of the top selling baby story books of all time, Pat the Bunny was first released in 1940, and has been a favorite family book for several generations.

Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
Touchable, three-dimensional ladybugs and bright, bold illustrations make this a wonderful book for infants, who will enjoy the rhyming story of ten ladybugs who disappear one by one. Toddlers can practice their numbers and colors, as well as identify familiar creatures in the illustrations. Ten Little Ladybugs provides hands-on learning and fun for babies of all ages.

5. The Improve Literacy website

Our website provides information and advice to parents about child and ways to motivate children to read. You can also make your child the star in our personalised storybook, which is designed to stimulate a child's excitement about reading.

Feel free to spread the word to other parents or people you think might be interested in our articles, newsletter and storybook!

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