Do you write or illustrate for very young children? Then remember, you’re not “just” making a picture book or board book. You’re making baby brain food!
You’re setting the foundation for your little readers’ future love of books, their future success in school across subjects, and their future ability to accomplish their goals and dreams. You’re cultivating an audience for middle grade and YA authors, too. Reading is integral to overall learning, in biology, history, aerospace engineering, child development, and neuroscience. Besides all that, you’re giving families and teachers something to talk about, something to snuggle around, and a learning tool. You’re giving a gift that will be given over and over again, that will carry over into a child’s future.
As I was walking my daughter through the halls to her kindergarten classroom for Back to School Night, I was reminded of the multitude of important people that have made the books that fill her library and classroom. It takes so many different kinds of writers and illustrators to fill the textbooks, library bookshelves, magazine racks, easy reader boxes, and reading nook baskets. I’m also reminded of the importance (and fun!) of reading at home in the pre-school years as I get one-on-one time with my youngest, and even the baby years when it comes to giving kids a solid foundation for school readiness.
I’m so grateful to the wonderful artists who’ve given us our favorite stories and pictures, and to the talented people who create books that will further my children’s development and education. If you ever doubt that your work truly matters, consider some of these statements about the importance of picture books and reading for very young children:
- “Reading is as important to a child’s growth and development as food and water. Pediatricians recommend reading aloud to your child every day, so try to incorporate reading aloud into your daily routine, such as during play or at bedtime. Consider it a healthy habit just like brushing your child’s teeth, feeding him vegetables, or giving him a daily vitamin…. Because your baby’s brain is developing so quickly, the first year of life is critical. Research shows that babies who are read to in the first nine months of their lives are better prepared for school than babies who had little interaction with books. “http://www.ala.org/alsc/issuesadv/borntoread/resource
- Both brain architecture and developing skills are built “from the bottom up,” with simple circuits and skills providing the scaffolding for more advanced circuits and skills over time. Reading, for example, cannot occur until the brain has been successfully wired, circuit on circuit, skill on skill. https://www.readtogrow.org/Content/Brain_Development_and_Literacy.asc
- All of these interactions around books (chewing on books, hitting books to try to turn pages, and imitating adult talk) are helping your child to develop print awareness. Print awareness is one of the pre-reading skills. He is learning how books work and that pictures represent real things….
Because you are making the interaction around books enjoyable, your baby is developing print motivation, an enjoyment of books and reading. Children who have positive experiences around books and reading are more likely to stick with learning to read when they learn to read in school, even when it might be difficult.
Sometimes it is easy to run out of things to say to a baby since we cannot understand what they are saying and have a further conversation. Reading with your baby, talking about pictures in books or magazines or catalogs can be one way to build conversations. http://www.ala.org/alsc/issuesadv/borntoread/resources
Let this motivate you to do what you do best! Create the best books you can, because it will matter to the little explorers who’ll bite them, build towers with them, eventually read them all by themselves, and love them to tatters. Creating a book that is loved by a child does more than just entertain them. It develops their pre-reading skills and helps to predict their future success as readers.