When should I start reading to my baby?
It is never too early to start reading to your baby! Many adults assume children under 1 are too young to benefit from reading. According to a national survey, less than 20 percent of parents read to their six month old babies more than five days a week. However, research shows that early reading improves language and cognitive development and increases vocabulary. These literacy skills are essential for later reading appreciation and success.
What should I read to my baby?
Not all books are created equal! One study tracked children from birth to school entry. Parents reported the quantity-how often they read together and how many books they had in the house, and the quality-whether they discussed the book, pointed to illustrations, and made it an interactive experience for the child. The results showed that quantity, and especially quality, do matter. In fact, even in early infancy, higher quality and quantity led to a larger vocabulary and stronger reading skills in childhood. Therefore, it is important to create meaningful reading experiences with your baby.
Books by Age
Books for Birth to 6 months
- Board books, fabric books, and vinyl books
- Enjoy listening to the sound of your voice
- Use their five senses to explore books
- May lose focus and need a break during reading time
Books for 6 to 9 months
- Board books with colorful illustrations and textures
- Explore books by looking, touching, and mouthing them
- Recognize familiar books
Books for 9 to 18 months
- Board books with stories, rhymes, and familiar objects
- Request a favorite book
- Ask your child simple questions about the illustrations such as, “Where is the cow?”
Books for 18 to 24 months
- Longer books with paper pages and more complex plots
- May run away while you are reading but are often still listening
- Harness this energy and encourage your toddler to act out aspects of the story
Books for 24 to 36 months
- Books with exciting plots and non-fiction books about topics that interest them
- Ask questions about what is happening in the story and how a character is feeling
- May tell you what the story is about based on the illustrations
Reading is a great way to spend quality time with your child. It can help foster their love for learning, while also strengthening their vocabulary and brain development. Infants, toddlers, and children greatly benefit from being read to by someone who loves them.