Magazine article Book

Tempting Toddlers

Magazine article Book

Tempting Toddlers

Article excerpt

An early introduction to reading can begin a great relationship

ALL TOO OFTEN THE QUESTION OF HOW TO RAISE children creates silly controversies--take Florida's "Beethoven's Babies" bill. In 1998 the Florida legislature required state-financed childcare programs to play classical music for part of the day. The bill, it turned out, was inspired by a study of college students--one that was completely unrelated to child development. In the derision that followed, some critics widened their scope to dismiss not just Beethoven's Babies, but the overall importance of enriching the first three years of a child's life.

Parents should rest assured that child development experts still emphasize the importance of reading to young children, not with the goal of teaching children to read, but with that of having a good time together looking at pictures and playing with words. With no extra effort on the parent's part, well-chosen books introduce children to vocabulary, simple story structure and a variety of admirable artwork. Toddlers, who are starting to focus on the world around them and acquiring new words every day, benefit from being read to on a daily basis.

To make reading fun for toddlers, encourage them to participate in the book. For example, while listening to Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino, young children love to guess when different animals are described but not named. The long-time favorite Old Mother Hubbard and Her Wonderful Dog, with droll pictures by James Marshall, invites children to supply the phrase about what the dog is doing, like playing a flute or feeding the cat. Just Like Daddy by Frank Asch, a simple but clever book about a family on a fishing trip, repeats the words "Just like Daddy." Children start joining in the refrain, only to be caught by surprise by the final phrase, "Just like Mommy."

The best books are ones that amuse both child and parent, such as David McPhail's Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore! …

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