Dear Dr. T,
I have a 8 month old daughter. I want her to love reading. She will hold a book and flip the pages a bit, but she really doesn't focus on what I try to read to her. Am I starting too soon?
M.B. Hoboken, NJ
No, you are not starting too soon. Like any adult ability, there are prerequisite skills children must develop before they start reading. Many of these abilities may not resemble what we think of in terms of conventional reading skills. For example, simply having the motor skills to hold a book or turn a page are critical pre-reading skills. Children also need to do basic cognitive tasks like matching like items before they can start to scan and perceive letters and words.
Provide your daughter with a wide variety of cognitive, motor and sensory experiences. This will get her on the path to loving reading.
This is a good plan no matter what a child's age. As children grow older, make sure they have books that are age appropriate and cover a wide variety of topics. Children love re-reading books they enjoy. This is great and helps them learn information on new levels each time.
You might also do interactive activities connected to the themes in the books your child reads. If your child loves a book about farm animals do activities like visiting a petting a zoo or doing art tasks with farm animal themes.