Language is the most powerful tool we each can learn to use for building and managing our lives. Naturally, we learn to use our language to communicate, but we also use it to think.
For the last five months in utero, babies can hear their mothers voices as they converse with family members, neighbors, and others. They also can hear music, the family dog barking and other environmental noise.
Once born, an infant will hear all of that and much more. Language lands on baby ears like so much other noise. As infants grow each day and their family includes the baby in their conversations, little ones begin to discern that the noises they hear and the noises they make, along with physical touch and facial expressions, can be a significant pathway to lifelong connections with others. Therefore, it’s critical that babies hear and see people talking to them and to one another.
Books from the beginning
Infant language becomes dramatically more powerful when books are added to their lives. The language found in books often is much more elaborate and rich than the typical language shared around the house and during meals.
Even very simple books, with relatively short sentences and non-technical vocabulary carry more complex language than daily household chat. Consequently, building a relationship with local librarians and book store personnel, and scheduling daily time for reading age-appropriate books and talking about what you read offers powerful anchors for language, and thus for success throughout school and life.
It’s never too early
How early might the first seeds for lifelong love of books and reading be planted, nurtured and cared for?
Well, certainly from the day of their births and even while still in the womb.
No, really. I implore parents and siblings to read to new babies and toddlers, to talk to them and with them daily about books and the lessons of life they carry, starting as early as possible. The power of language cannot be understated. It must be cultivated as a child grows and continue until they leave home for college or other adventures.