Raising Readers: The Importance of Reading to Babies and Toddlers

This brief Parent Tip is provided at no cost by United Services for Effective Parenting-Ohio, Inc. as a tool to assist parents, teachers, grandparents, and all who help to care for and to raise our children. For more information on this and other tools from USEP-OHIO refer to the conclusion of this Parent Tip.


By Cindy McKay, www.usep-ohio.com

Babies and toddlers love to be read to, especially by the people who love and care for them. What could be better than being cuddled and loved as they hear your voice, feel cared for, and learn to see and understand the world? It is never too early to begin reading to a child, and hopefully, you will never stop.

How do babies and young children benefit?

  • They have fun.
  • Their brains develop as they hear new sounds and stories.
  • They learn new words and see new things.
  • They experience art, symbols, and pictures.
  • They become good listeners.
  • They make connections with emotions and experiences.
  • They feel calm when cuddled, and associate reading with feeling loved and contented.
  • They are more likely to become good readers and succeed in school.

Since baby brains grow and change quickly, talking, singing, and cuddling will help baby to relate with parents and caregivers. Babies and toddlers will learn more now and later, and have fun with all of the people who care for them.

Parents should choose one or all of the following:

  • Board of cloth books that will not tear or hurt baby
  • Picture books with clear, bright pictures
  • Nursery rhymes and Mother Goose books that repeat rhythms babies love to hear
  • Finger plays like This Little Piggy Went to Market or Hickory, Dickory, Dock
  • Music and songs that are playful and soothing like “Hush Little Baby”
  • Simple books like Goodnight Moon or stories created from imagination
  • Games and activities like Baby Games: The Joyful Guide to Child’s Play from Birth to Three Years by Elaine Martin or Baby’s Game Book by Isabel Wilner

How can you be sure baby will listen? Choose books that are fun to read for a few minutes of time. Babies will listen longer as they grow.

  • Plan to repeat and reread your baby’s favorites time and again.
  • Read every day in a quiet place with the radio and TV turned off.
  • Be sure to tell stories about your baby and about the family.
  • Keep baby’s books in a special place and reward baby with time to “read.”
  • Let baby see you reading; children are better readers when parents are readers.
  • Go to your local library story time, and ask librarians for help finding books you’ll love!

We invite you to share this USEP-OHIO publication with other parents, students, and professionals at home or work. You have permission to copy Tips as written, send on as email, or print for a newsletter or handout. Email usepohio@usepohio.com or call 1-800-262-4KIDS to add email addresses to our list, to give us feedback about how the information works for you, or for other topics, publications, and programs.

Photo: Jomphong



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