Language and speech development in children can be challenging. One of the best ways to facilitate this development is through age-appropriate books that children can either read to themselves or have read to them. Seeing the written word and sounding out letters and their combinations helps to solidify linguistic concepts in your child's mind.
Books for Infants
Infants can initiate social communication. By smiling and cooing while maintaining eye contact with your infant, you encourage the beginnings of language. Good books for developing infant communication are those with bold pictures, relatable objects (photographs of other infants, or everyday items such as food and playthings), and even abstract art with flashy coloring. One excellent choice is "Pat The Bunny" by Dorothy Kunhardt, which integrates sensory learning with language development by providing a soft "bunny" for touching as mom or dad reads the book about the familiar animal.
Books for Toddlers
Babbling is your toddler's way of learning language. In time, the talking and reading you share with him will help your toddler speak actual words. By the time your toddler is 24 months old, he will be learning about nine words per day, according to the British Columbia Ministry of Health. Reading to your toddler facilitates that language development and the learning of those nine words. Books such as "The Foot Book" by Dr. Seuss and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. are examples of books with repetition that helps your toddler remember the words he's hearing.
Books for Preschoolers
Your 3- to 4-year-old child should have developed such language skills as speaking in complete sentences, using appropriate verb tenses, reciting familiar nursery rhymes and songs, and correctly stating names, colors, objects, and categories of objects. This is the perfect time to introduce wordless books, which have illustrated content that kids can use as background for a story that they have made up. A few such books are "Chicken and Cat" by Sarah Varon, "The Adventures of Polo" by Regis Faller, and "Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug" by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash.
Books for School-Age Children
An article on "School-Age Children Development" on MedlinePlus.org, a site from the National Institutes of Health, explains that "early school-age children should be able to use simple, but complete sentences that average five to seven words. As the child goes through the elementary school years, grammar and pronunciation become normal. Children use more complex sentences as they grow." Provide your own school-age child with reading material that keeps up that pace. Whether they can read by themselves or still need to be read to, young school-age children need books with more developed plot lines to assist with their own linguistic development. Titles to consider include "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak and "Llama Llama Red Pajama" by Anna Dewdney.
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