Reading to Babies

It’s never too early to start reading! Babies love the sound of your voice, and reading helps you to bond, as well as helping your baby’s brain development. Plus, it’s fun! Try the following tips:

  • Read 5 minutes, several times a day. Board books for babies are great for this.
  • Point to and describe the pictures.
  • Vary your facial expressions and your voice.
  • For little chewers, try soft books or books that can float in the tub.
  • Try singing or telling a story instead of reading.

Reading to Toddlers

Toddlers can be “squirmy worms”; it’s hard to sit still when you’re learning all about the world! Try reading at certain times, like before naps or bedtime. It’s a good way for both of you to wind down and relax. Some suggestions for this age group:

  • Let your child hold the book, turn the pages, or tell the story to you. There’s no right or wrong way—so go backwards if your child wants to.
  • Be patient with reading the same story over and over. Toddlers thrive on repetition; this is one of the early steps of reading readiness.
  • As you read, name something on the page and ask your child to point to it, or, point to a picture and ask your child “What is that?”
  • Move your finger under the words as you read. This helps your child learn that we read left to right, and that the marks on the page tell the story.
  • Toddlers love to participate! Try books that ask questions (or make up your own questions about the pictures.)
  • Toddlers may want to make up a story, shout out words, or pretend to read. This is normal and should be encouraged.
  • Picture books with simple stories are good for this age, but your child may still enjoy their old baby board books, too. Pop-ups and lift-the-flap books are fun, too.

Reading to Preschoolers

By age 2, your child is ready for variety in what you read, though she or he will have their favorites that you’ll read over and over. If this starts to get old, try the following:

  • Visit your local library to choose new books. As your child’s attention span increases, try alternating between books with few words and books that tell longer stories.
  • Children enjoy hearing stories about other kids “just like me”, but books can help introduce new experiences, too. Going to the dentist or going to the doctor for the first time are much less scary if kids have read about it first. Also, reading about new babies in the family can be very helpful if a little brother or sister is coming along soon.
  • Before or while you read, let your child look at the pictures and ask questions.
  • Help your child’s predicting skills by asking, “What do you think happens next?” before turning the page.
  • Keep moving your finger below the text as you read.
  • If you’re reading an “old favorite”, see if your child can finish phrases or sentences. Try adding a new phrase and see if your child can catch it.
  • Talk about the story. Did you like it? If not, that’s okay; talk about why.
  • Let your child “read” to you, or do the voice of a favorite character in the story.