Feb 27 2024

Nurturing Young Minds through Parent-Child Interaction

Nurturing Young Minds through Parent-Child Interaction

“Science has told us for many years that learning begins from birth — so let’s choose books that support shared book reading right from the start... It’s about offering choices for parents and caregivers that they’ll enjoy reading aloud, creating opportunities for loving interactions, and strengthening that all-important relationship for years to come.”

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Medical Director, Reach Out and Read Wisconsin; Vice-Chair, Reach Out and Read Board of Directors; Associate Professor of Pediatrics and of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

It's a no-brainer that most parents or future caregivers envision themselves reading to their children. Many of us have cherished memories of reading with our parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles during our own childhood. Whether it was a special occasion or part of our daily routine, reading with a child brings a sense of calm, joy, and connection.

Apart from the emotional benefits, numerous studies have consistently shown that reading to a child from birth aids in brain development fosters early literacy skills, and lays the foundation for learning how to read. When we read to our children, we are not only introducing them to new words and ideas, but we are also stimulating their imaginations and expanding their knowledge of the world. From the earliest days, when we read simple board books to our babies, we are helping them to make connections between the pictures and the words, laying the groundwork for language development.

As many of our readers know, we have children of our own. Reading a book (or two or three) before nap time and bedtime has seamlessly integrated into our daily routines.

In the Pelkey house, we let our children pick which books they want to read during this routine and while they do have some tried and true favorites, they also surprise us from time to time with a selection that we weren’t expecting. Books that were my favorites when I was a child have become theirs. And we’ve also developed new favorites along the way. Reading together has become a core aspect of life in the Pelkey house.

Within the Garvey household, the highlight of our nightly routine is story time. Both my daughter (3 years old) and son (18 months old) love picking out what book they want to read and then we cuddle up with a stuffy on their chair and read. It not only signals to their brains that it’s time to slow down and get ready for bed, since it’s an integral part of their bedtime routine, but it also allows me one-on-one time with each of them where we are fully engaging. Without any distractions from electronic devices, it's just me and them, enjoying our favorite book together. We often get sidetracked pointing to different things and talking about them, which makes the story that much more enjoyable. Their current favorites are Brown Bear (or ‘Brah Brah’ to my son), and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site: Cement Mixers ABCs for my daughter! It’s fun to mix up the stories and change up the genders of the vehicles so that everyone is included. 

At All About Books we intentionally look for and carry books that both feature and encourage parents and caregivers reading with their children. Books like Wiggle and Move (and others in the Baby Gym series) have tips inside encouraging moving with your baby as you read and sing.

The new Dialogic Reading series by Dr. John Hutton provides prompts for interacting with your children while you read the story. Both encouraging and empowering, this series is excellent for promoting active participation while reading and developing early literacy skills.

These books, along with many others encourage meaningful interactions between parents and children during reading time. In fact, any book can achieve this goal. If your child is familiar with a particular book, you can ask them what they think will happen next or prompt them to identify objects on the page, even if they are not directly related to the main story. Every element of the book can be utilized to engage your child while reading together. Some days, this may lead to deep conversations, while on other days, it may involve snuggling up and reading together or gently rocking in a cozy chair.

Reading to our children brings us joy as we share stories and adventures together. As caregivers, we have the important role of nurturing the next generation of readers, and we are grateful to be part of this rewarding journey. And what could be more heartwarming than witnessing your child snuggled up all by themselves with their beloved book, or reading it aloud to their sibling or cherished stuffed animals?

Posted on Feb 27, 2024

Sarah Pelkey and Natalie Garvey
Hey there, I’m Sarah Pelkey and Natalie Garvey

We are Sarah and Natalie, the Sales and Marketing Team's resident moms, and we enjoy reading with our children and merging our work and motherhood together.