Signing As You Read ~ Chris

If you are running out of ways to talk to your baby then just pick up a book and start signing as you read!  Young toddlers really enjoy identifying objects and animals in books and this gives you an excellent opportunity to introduce signs.

Reading to your baby is easy.  Just prop a book up with a pillow in front of you and put your baby on your lap.  Toddlers can be placed on top of a pillow.  After a while, my son started setting us all up as he’d bring the pillow over, show me where to sit by tapping his finger against the floor and would even choose which book we read!  I prefer to sit behind and have the book out front so we can both read along.  If you prefer, you can put the book between you and your baby and read from upside down so you can watch your baby’s reaction.

At first you can point things out or have your baby point things out for you, from there do the signs for their benefit and have them try to copy you.  Once baby is more advanced try playing games by doing the signs for various things and see if your baby can point them out.  With practice you should be able to do the signs for all or most things in any given baby book.  My son really enjoyed our big Sesame Street book that was passed down from his Aunt.  It was a very busy and very big book (as big as my son) so there was a lot of things to look at.  His favourite sign was the one for ICE CREAM since there was an ice cream vendor mixed into a city landscape.

To get your toddler ready for reading just follow the words along with your finger on the page so your baby knows which words you are reading and that they have meaning.  After just a short time, my son would tap the words with his finger if he wanted me to read them to him.  Book reading doesn’t have to be a cover to cover experience.  Let your baby jump around the book and read whichever pages they prefer.  Often a baby will flip forward and backwards and it takes some time before they can keep their attention on the story or plot.  This isn’t the goal though – you’re just introducing the book as a concept.  Use books to spark topic conversations and use it to produce a more interactive experience for both of you.

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