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November is Literacy Month

Babies are born learners, and the number of quality interactions they experience in their earliest months and years heavily influences how they develop and succeed later. In recognition of the importance of early literacy and family literacy, Governor Dave Heineman has proclaimed November “Read Aloud to a Child Month."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently recommended that parents set aside a few minutes every day for sharing books with their babies beginning at birth. It can be part of a bedtime routine, after breakfast, before naptime or whenever it works best with the family’s schedule. Babies love the one-on-one attention from parents—the most important people in their world—so make reading time special by finding a cozy spot to cuddle up with a book or two. This should be a time free of texting, TV and other distractions so baby has a parent’s full attention.     

What are young babies able to do when someone reads a book to them?
The AAP says newborns to age 3 months can pay attention for a minute or two at a time and look at the book parents are holding for them and talking about. They also can watch facial expressions and listen to the sounds and begin to copy them. If they start to smile, coo and move their arms and kick their legs, you’ll know they’re enjoying the interaction and want to keep playing.

What should we do when reading to an infant and how does it help her development?
As you read a book, name and point to the pictures the baby is looking at. Turn the pages following the baby’s interest. Act out pictures using your face, hands and voice. And copy the sounds the baby makes and the looks on his face. This back-and-forth “talking” lets him know his mom or dad cares about what he’s saying and feeling.

For more information and tips for reading to children, see Read Aloud Nebraska or American Academy of Pediatrics Resources for Families.

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