Reading to Babies
Reading with your baby is a valuable way to spend precious time together. Although your new baby will not understand the words you read, your voice and your cuddling are exactly what they need. Begin sharing books with your baby as soon as you can safely hold the baby and the book at the same time. It is one of the most important things you can do to help your child learn language.
- Hold the book so your child can see the pictures clearly.
- Let your baby explore soft cloth or board books. Babies learn by exploring with their mouth – sometimes, early reading looks like chewing.
- Point to objects in the book and name them. Also known as "Point and Say”. Books for point and say should be very limited in text – one word per page is best.
- Change your voice as you read aloud and make the sounds of the animals baby sees.
- Ask your baby questions about what’s happening on the page, such as, "Where is the duck?” Pause, point and answer for baby, "Oh, look, there’s the duck!”
- Respond to your baby’s interest. Imitate his responses.
- Improvise! You don’t need to read the words as they appear in the book. You can just talk about the pictures.
- Relax and have fun! It’s okay if your baby crawls or moves away – she will still hear and benefit from your voice.
- What Babies Like in Books
- Pages with rounded edges (sharper edges may hurt your babies mouth)
- Board books with photos of babies
- Books with bold, clear pictures of familiar items in baby’s world
- Books with rhythm and repetition
- Books with textures or touch and feel books
- Books with animal sounds
- Lullaby books
Reading to Toddlers
Read favorite stories again and again.
Get your little one actively involved in telling the story.
Ask questions that invite more than a yes or no answer – "What is this thing called?” "Oh, I wonder what she is doing?”
Summarize the book if it has too many words, or just talk about the pictures. Age-appropriate toddler books have little to no plot, so it isn’t necessary to read from cover to cover.
Give your child access to books. Choosing what they would like to look at and learning to turn the pages is part of early literacy.
What Toddlers like in Books
- Small books to fit small hands
- Books with simple rhymes
- Books with familiar items – shoes, toys, pets
- Books with familiar routines – bedtime, bath time, meals
- Lift the flap books
- Books with very few words or with repeating words – books little ones can learn by heart
- Goodnight books for bedtime
Reading to Preschoolers
Let your child be involved in choosing books and let her practice retelling the story in her own words.
Talk about the pictures, characters and events in the story as you are reading.
Encourage your child to use his imagination or to make predictions about what will happen in a story.
Casually point out some of the letters in the book. "There is a ‘j.’ Your name starts with a ‘j,’ too.” At times, run your finger below the text as you read aloud.
Choose some books with repetition and rhyme and read aloud with pauses to allow your child time to fill in the words.
What preschoolers like in books
- Books that tell stories
- Books that make them laugh
- Books with simple, repetitive text they can memorize
- Books about kids that are like them – also books that introduce children who are different from them
- Books about going to school and books about making friends
- Books that have playful or rhyming language
- Alphabet books, counting books and vocabulary books
- Books about the real world – trucks, dinosaurs, animals, food