Family, Therapy Activities

How early can I introduce reading to my child with Down syndrome?

Many children with Down syndrome can learn to read! I look for a few pre-language skills when thinking about introducing books into a child’s routine. Babies who have developed an interest in faces and are beginning to interact socially may enjoy looking at pictures in a photo album or simple patterns in a book (like Sassy’s Look Book). When the baby is older (~9+ months) looking at books with simple photographs with one item per page and a simple font is suggested. I’ve found my local TJMaxx to have a wide variety of these kinds of books, like the Bright Baby books.

Starting to introduce books and print in the first year exposes children to pre-literacy skills such as page turning, holding a book upright, and print awareness.  It is also a wonderful time to bond over a well-loved classic that you loved as a child like, Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown.

Here are some suggestions for reading books to children under two:

  • Start with simple photo books with one picture per page
  • Encourage a balance of showing (pointing and labeling pictures) and asking the child to show (What’s this?)
  • Pick books with repeating lines – Eric Carle books are great at this… “but he was still hungry.”
  • Turn the page just a bit and see if your child will help you finish
  • Don’t be afraid to adapt the words. If your child is getting antsy, simplify the story or skip a few pages – it’s OK!

The best way to introduce books is by reading together – there will be time for programs and DVDs (I’ll post about this another day). For now, make reading a part of your family routine. If you enjoy it, chances are your child will too!

Reading to your young child with Down syndrome works on the following communication skills:

  • Vocabulary enhancement
  • Pre-literacy awareness
  • Non-verbal expression (by developing a finger-point)
  • Recognition of photos and print

2 thoughts on “How early can I introduce reading to my child with Down syndrome?”

  1. Wow – that is a great link! Thank your mom! I’m going to start keeping milk caps!

Comments are closed.