Most advice about reading to your child suggests beginning at six months. So I was interested when a link sent around by the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Arab Children’s Literature Regional Programme suggested, instead, beginning at birth.
My youngest is now three months (and change), and it would be hard to avoid reading to him, as he’s often in my lap as I read to the three-year-old. Here is the above-mentioned advice, from the US-based PBS:
Newborns are calmed by the rhythmic sounds of lullabies and nursery rhymes. These will be their first stories. Your baby may even begin to recognize a song or rhyme if you repeat it often. By the time she is 4 months old, your baby will show an interest in books and start to explore them by chewing or throwing them. At this age, your baby needs sturdy vinyl or cloth books that can survive chewing and are not easily torn.
Although we have many Arabic board books, I’m hard-pressed to think of any that are vinyl or cloth. However, honestly, you could either: a) just not allow your four-month-old to eat books or b) not let it bother you if the books get a bit munched-on.
As I recall, our firstborn was a book-eater, whereas the middle child was hungry for literature, but only in the metaphoric sense.
Since أهازيج الطفولة المبكرة is currently the “most requested” book by the three-year-old, the infant has heard it a LOT. (The three-year-old’s current favorite nursery rhyme is “الحمار .”)
Is it calming? Does it develop his brain? I don’t know. But the three-year-old and I like it.
It’s also possible I need to diversify their education:
“Yes,” he told me. “In books.”