Reading Tips for Parents of Babies

It's never too early to read to your baby. As soon as your baby is born, he or she starts learning. Just by talking to, playing with, and caring for your baby every day, you help your baby develop language skills necessary to become a reader. By reading with your baby, you foster a love of books and reading right from the start. The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.

These tips for parents of babies are also available to download and print:

Snuggle up with a book

When you hold your baby close and look at a book together, your baby will enjoy the snuggling and hearing your voice as well as the story. Feeling safe and secure with you while looking at a book builds your baby's confidence and love of reading.

Choose baby-friendly books

Books with bright and bold or high-contrast illustrations are easier for young babies to see, and will grab their attention. Books made of cloth or soft plastic (for the bathtub) or "board books" with sturdy cardboard pages are easier for a baby to handle.

Keep books where your baby can reach them

Make sure books are as easy to reach, hold, and look at as toys. Remember, a baby will do with a book what he does with everything else — put it in his mouth. And that's exactly what he's supposed to do, so you may only want to put chewable books within reach.

Talk with your baby — all day long

Describe the weather or which apples you are choosing at the grocery. Talk about the pictures in a book or things you see on a walk. Ask questions. By listening, your child learns words, ideas, and how language works.

Encourage your baby’s coos, growls, and gurgles

They are your baby's way of communicating with you, and are important first steps toward speech. Encourage attempts to mimic you. The more your baby practices making sounds, the clearer they will become. Go ahead and moo, woof and honk!

Give baby a hand!

Encourage your baby to pick up crackers or peas, touch noses and toes, point to pictures and grab toys. The muscles in those little hands will grow strong, agile, and ready to turn pages.

Develop a daily routine (and make reading a part of it)

Routines can soothe a baby, and let a baby learn to predict what will happen next. The ability to predict is important when your child is older and is reading independently.

Sing, Read, Repeat

Read favorite stories and sing favorite songs over and over again. Repeated fun with books will strengthen language development and positive feelings about reading.

“Read” your baby

Pay attention to how your baby reacts to the book you are reading. Stop if your baby isn't enjoying the story and try another book or another time.

Reading tip sheets in other languages

A downloadable handout, for parents of children in preschool to grade 3, is also available below in the following languages:

Find these and other downloadable tips and guides in our Guides section.

Reading Rockets (2021)


You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected]


Thank you for the Spanish language resources! I live in Bolivia, and there is very little early literacy that happens here...I was envisioning a tip sheet just like the ones found here to put in a care package for new moms as they leave the hospital, along with a free children's book (like libraries often give out at events). Thanks for the tip to find the books in bulk!

As an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Haywood County Reading Railroad is about to launch a major community-wide early literacy drive. We are calling it "LITERACY FOR THE LITTLES." Your materials will be extraordinarily helpful. I'm so glad we won't have to "reinvent the wheel."

I think there is an important language is missing and the language is Somali because there is more and more Somali young generation linking for this web, so it is really vital to be part of the languages.
thank you for your understanding and i hope you will add Somali language. again many thanks.

Please, Add Hausa Language to your translations. Thanks for all these great resourceful materials!

Please add Punjabi to your translations. Thanks for these great resources!

Please add Hindi & Gujarati to your translation.These will help for Parents and Tutors.

These are perfect. It would be amazing to have a version in Burmese as well.

Thank you for the age specific reading tips. Will you be adding Tips for reading to babies in other languages?

Thank you so much for the translations of parent resources! Will you please Bosnian and Croatian?

Please add Hindi and Telegu to your translations. These are great for our grade level literacy nights!

thank you so much. we're including these in our school summer reading bags

"Reading to infants and children is the single most effective means of supporting their language and literacy development. In addition, reading stories and poetry to infants and children fosters healthy bonding and attachment." David Elkind PhD.

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan