Stories soften our hearts and ignite our minds. They evoke empathy and bring us closer, as humans. That’s why we read, and it’s why we seek to raise readers.
What Does Reading Do For Your Baby?
When you read to your baby, you:
- Allow them to observe and absorb you—your speech patterns, your emotions, and your reactions—all of which support social and emotional development.
- Introduce the concepts of sounds, letters, numbers, shapes, and names.
- Develop their most-important life skills like listening, concentration, memory, and vocabulary.
- Teach them to look, point, feel, and ask questions, building critical thinking skills.
From day one, read to your baby. You can read anything: baby books, the newspaper, your favorite novel. Introduce board books during playtime, bathtime, or bedtime, and let them explore the pages however they see fit. Rather than reading the words on a page, describe the images and make up your own stories.
At this age, reading can feel pointless. Newborns may not show interest in books for the first three months of life, but it’s a common misconception that the youngest babies don’t need books.
What’s important? Not the books, specifically. The sound of your voice as you read aloud, the cadence of your words, the closeness of being held, the warmth of being paid attention to—these are the things that matter. The interest in books comes later.
Older babies and toddlers:
Story quality begins to matter more and more at this stage. As they grow, children build a rich network of words that form the foundations of vocabulary. They’re developing their first words and reinforcing their concepts of how the world works.
What’s important? Simple storylines, grounded themes, familiar characters, action language, and uncontested time with you. As babies turn into toddlers, they start to curate their own fierce independence. They’ll enjoy books with repetitive language and plots that you can enjoy together.
Studies show that, by age 2, children who are read to regularly know more words than children who have not been read to. They display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers.
How Should You Read With Your Baby?
One page at a time.
In line at the grocery store. Before bedtime. Before naps. In the car. While you cuddle. During playtime. After mealtimes. After naps. Bring snacks. Build forts. Make storytime sacred.
Your little one may not want to sit through a whole story. She may not even want to sit through a page. He may want to flip the pages as fast as he can, or read the book backwards. She may even want to taste the pages. Here’s the great thing: you can take a deep breath and let them do their thing. Nibbles and all, it’s part of the process of learning to love books.
Tips for Reading:
- Read with gusto. Do the character voices, and convey a range of emotions within the story to hold your baby’s interest.
- Cuddle while you read. Your child will savor the warmth, safety, and connection of being close to you.
- Don’t worry about finishing entire books. It’s okay to focus on the pages that you and your baby enjoy.
- Don’t stick to the script. Engage your baby, even if they can’t answer you yet. Ask questions about the pictures and point out fun characters. You don’t have to only read the words on the page.
- Reading should be fun! Sing songs. Repeat the rhymes. Encourage funny noises. Have fun with your Neo as you read together!
- It’s okay to read the same books over and over again. Babies love—and learn from—repetition.
- Provide a steady stream of new books. Your little one also learns from variety. The more books, the better.
Ready to Read?
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