Vidhya Narayanan’s @Quora answer to What are the perks of reading books at an early age?

I’m a mother of a 27 month old who is already an avid reader. Her latest obsession is a book called “Alphasaurus” which is the A-Z of Dinosaur names. She now knows, identifies and speaks almost accurately the names from A to P in the book, so far. That includes words like Compsognathus, Helioceratops and Fulgurotherium.

Starting from an increased vocabulary, the habit of reading books at an early age stimulates thinking in children and inculcates early knowledge – something which would stay on through their lifetime.

The emotional connection between a book and its reader has always been a known affair. When it comes to reading to a baby, it’s not a challenge, but an experience and a beautiful bonding opportunity. Nothing is comparable to a drooling baby looking at your expression and giggling now and then while you read them a book, and tearing a few of those wet pages right in front of you. Any parent can relate to this.

1. Make reading a part of the child’s routine. Once a pattern is set, it’s likely they will look forward to that cuddly reading session with you everyday.

2. Reading variety of books not only introduces them to many colors and shapes but also helps improve their vocabulary as they grow.

3. Reading a story in a low soft voice helps the child relax and fall asleep at night

4. Parents should help the child feel that reading is fun and it’s another way of playing. If they start to feel that parents are pressuring them to listen, their interest would begin to wane.

5. When I read “Linus the Vegetarian T-Rex” (Yeah, my LO loves dinosaurs. Oh well, who doesn’t?) explaining how big and strong Linus became eating veggies, it made her become curious and she wanted to try eating veggies mentioned in the book. The book not only overwhelmed her to see how big a T-Rex was, but also made her tell “Mom, I’m munching carrots, just like Linus’. Children implicitly find it easy to relate themselves to characters in a book.

6. However busy we parents are, when a child asks us to read a book, it’s important that someone in the family tend to them right away. Because, curiosity in reading is not a very easy habit to imbibe in toddlers and should be nurtured well.

7. It’s not just about reading a book, it’s important to find a book which interests your child. Take them to a book store to find what kind of book fascinates them and more importantly try to find out why they like the kind of books they like, as it might give you clues on their unique capabilities. Some kids like patterns and shapes while others like animal stories. In the early days, just reading something they are curious about helps stimulate their imagination.

8. While reading a book, if the child is not focussing, parents could talk about something totally irrelevant but which may interest the child and then join a string to the story in the book. After all, toddlers and little children are busy exploring their own world full of everyday surprises. And early reading will help add many new elements into their imagination eventually helping nurture their creativity.

Reading is a life long process. And the earlier it starts, the more knowledge, confidence and courage they gain as they grow into the harder realities of life.