Literacy: The first year

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We know now that literacy skills begin developing during the first years of life. Programs like “Raising Readers,” which many Maine hospitals and doctors offices participate in, gift books to children right from birth knowing it sets a good foundation.┬áNow, we’re not talking ABC’s in the hospital room, but those early months of looking and exploring books can really set the tone for a lifetime love of reading.

Here’s a few ways to work books into everyday life with baby:

1. Read in utero — Baby isn’t going to pick up the underlying themes of “Great Gatsby,” but babies can hear starting around 16 weeks. So, try introducing your partner’s voice to baby with a story.

2. Remember how fun it was when your teacher said it’d be a “reading day.” Everyone wore pajamas, ate snacks and read under their desks. One day a week (maybe starting around four months), put away the toys with the blinking lights and songs and surround your baby with books.

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3. Download an audiobook. Even if baby can’t exactly understand the storyline, she’ll absorb language.

4. Read beyond the page. It’s one thing to read “Cat the Cat” for what it is. It’s another to talk about Cat. What is cat doing in the picture, how is Cat feeling. Make a voice, what does Cat sound like when he talks?

5. Set a reasonable goal. We shoot for three to four books a day, but maybe you only have time for one before bed or maybe you want to read seven. And sometimes, The Bug shuts the book and decides eating sounds better.It doesn’t matter, just read and enjoy the time with your child.