As a first-time parent, I wanted to make sure that I was doing what was best for my child.

I knew that reading, singing and talking are important ways to support her development. Since music and reading are two activities that are important to my husband and me, we wanted our child find that same love for new ideas. We wanted her to learn different ways to express herself.

I started collecting books for my daughter before she was born, and I knew that I would be using them every day. As a parent, I have found that reading and singing not only aide children’s development, but they are also easy and enjoyable. Reading and singing are a fun way to help me bond with my child.

Reading with my daughter has always been one of my favorite parts of the day. From the first day we took her home from the hospital, I found that reading to her was a great way to spend time with her. I loved to use different expressions for different books. I loved to watch her respond to my reading even though she was just a few months old. I read to her so frequently that I even memorized a few of her books.

When my daughter would start crying in the car or fussing in public, I could start reciting one of the stories and she would calm down and listen, even though she had no pictures to look at. The sound of my voice with the familiar sounds of the story was enough to entertain her. At 6 months old, she had “favorite” books that she wanted me to read to her. Now that she is older, she understands the story well enough to follow along and even can help “read” the story.

I’ve found that reading or reciting stories also helps older children. We were recently, staying in a cabin with a few other families and all the children — ages 8 months to 3 years — were stuck inside because of rain. It wasn’t long before they became restless. One of the children asked about the giant bearskin hanging on the wall, and without hesitating I began reciting the book “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt.” The kids loved it and began to join in as we repeated the story several times. After it stopped raining, we went outside and reenacted the bear hunt from the book. The kids had fun and it was easy for me to keep them engaged.

Now that my daughter is almost 3, one of her favorite places is our local library. The library offers so much to our family. One of our favorite items at the library are their themed book bags. These bags include books, activities and other items that follow a theme. My daughter loves to check out the bag and learn about all kinds of things such as dinosaurs, body parts and dogs. Thanks to these bags, we have been introduced to new authors and books, been able to extend book themes into play, and have learned new information. Going to the library is such a treat, and the atmosphere is such a warm and inviting place to take my daughter.

Throughout these experiences, I have found that stories naturally lead children to use their imaginations, tell their own stories, and find words and actions to express themselves. I would encourage all parents to use books, songs, and stories to interact with their children. As our family knows, stories are a fun way to relieve stress or have fun throughout the day. Almost any time of the day can include a book or a story, whether you are driving or at bathtime, bedtime, or mealtime.

I would encourage all parents to make reading a part of your families’ daily activities. By investing time in reading, talking, and singing, you will not only see educational benefits but, more importantly, you will foster a love for books while creating memories with your children.

Jessica Munson is the mother of one daughter. She is the director of human resources at Rock Canyon Bank and resides in Springville with her husband Spencer.

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