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When should I introduce my child to books?

By 9 to 12 months of age, your baby may be very interested in sharing books with you. If you choose the right books, and use strategies that engage young children, your child is likely to really enjoy this activity.

Why is it important to introduce books to infants?
There are many reasons to introduce books to very young children.

Babies are developing their ability to speak words, and to understand what others say to them. Book sharing is a fabulous way of assisting babies to build their knowledge of words and develop their spoken language skills.
At 9 – 12 months of age, babies are building a solid understanding of words, even though they may not be saying many yet. Around this age, babies start saying single words. Although the words may not yet be clear you are likely to notice that they use the same set of sounds for the same object each time. E.g. you may hear ‘mi’ each time you pour your child a cup of milk’.

Babies who are exposed to books begin to associate books with enjoyment, and when they are shared snuggled up with their parents, favourite Aunty, or grandparent, they also associate books with comfort. They are therefore more likely to seek out books to share with loved ones.
Early book sharing skills include recognizing objects within the books and relating these objects to their world outside of the book sharing activity (decontextualisation), beginning to realize that that books have pages that you turn, and starting understand that books have a start, a middle and an end.

Pierroutsakos, S.L. and J.S. DeLoache, Infants' Manual Exploration of Pictoria Objects Varying in Realism. Infancy, 2003. 4(1): p. 131-156.
DeLoache, J.S., et al., Grasping the nature of pictures. Psychological Science, 1998. 9(3): p. 205 - 210.
Gross, D., Infancy. Development from birth to three. 2008, Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.