Preparing for literacy: engagement for 6-12 month old 'readers'
Expecting parents often hear how babies should be read to from birth and even while in the womb. However, these reading experiences are about more than just reading a book cover-to-cover hoping to create an early love of reading. Reading with babies can increase language development and establish new brain connections during a time of rapid brain growth. Parents can play a key role in the brain development of their baby right from the start by providing engaging reading experiences. What behaviors show engagement in babies 6-12 months old? What strategies can parents use to increase this reading engagement? This action research studied the reading experiences of four boys, ages 6-12 months, with their parents in their own homes. Parents were asked to fill out a survey before and after the six-week study about books and reading. The boys were videotaped during a typical reading experience with a parent in their own home at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the study. After the first two videotaped sessions, the boys were placed on the Developmental Continuum for Reading: Pre-Verbal Phase (Engagement) to see what behaviors were already being demonstrated and to see what behaviors should be focused on for continued development. Following placement on the Developmental Continuum, parents were given two reading strategies to try with their child. Parents then journaled about the strategies tried and noted the engagement level of their child over three weeks. All four babies showed increased engagement over the six-week study. All parents involved in the study noted a change in the way reading times at home looked and sounded as a result of being more aware of strategies to engage their child in reading experiences.