Tips to apply from babyhood upwards

Babies and books are a great mix! Understandably your child may not be able to leaf through their book on their own just yet – or even pat the pictures without drooling on them a little – but the fact remains that an infant gets a lot out of story time. Just by holding up a simple picture book for your baby to see as they sit on your lap, you’re demonstrating what books are for and how you use them – eg. that you read from left to right and top to bottom, and turn the pages etc. All essential parts of understanding for later ‘actual’ reading.

Listening to your reading voice helps your baby become familiar with the flow and basic rules of language. In fact, experts say that children who are read to regularly have an easier time learning to read later on.


Try to read together for at least a few minutes every day so your baby comes to expect and look forward to story time as they grow. Books with big illustrations are easy on little eyes, and touch-and-feel books are always nice interactive fun, too. Help your child run their hands over the textures if they can’t manage to do it by themselves. Most importantly, don’t be discouraged if your little one is more interested in chewing on the pages than touching them. Part of the way babies learn about objects is by putting them in their mouths.


The main aim is really to communicate that reading is a satisfying and rewarding experience. If you are visibly discouraged by your child’s response or impatient in your manner, this aim won’t be achieved. Spend a short amount of time on a regular basis but ensure that it is quality time, without interruptions. Learning to read isn’t a quick and easy skill to learn but you can start teaching your baby that it’s a worthwhile skill to master as it gives so much pleasure.


As babies grow into toddlers and their attention spans lengthen, you can incorporate story time into part of your bedtime or evening ‘winding down’ routine. Encourage your child to share their preference of story and have them actively participate by helping to hold the book and turn the pages. Some children may respond well to books that have CD accompaniments to help capture their interest a little more with music or sounds that go with the story. I found that bedtime at our house was made smoother by incorporating both ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘The Monkey Puzzle’ into our daughter’s bedtime routine. The rhythmic nature of both books was almost hypnotic and always soothed Lailaa and helped her relax into readiness for sleep.


As your child grows a little older still they can be encouraged to ‘tell’ you the story…..’reading’ the book using the pictures or by using their own imaginations. You can also create ‘extension’ activities that can follow on from the books you share together. From doing drawings of the characters in the book to discussions about places in the book or things that have happened as part of the plot. You can draw on your child’s own knowledge and understanding of the world by asking them to give their own ideas for reasons why characters have done certain things or to ask them for suggestions of what else characters could have done instead. It gives us as parents a nice insight into how the minds of our children work when they share their own musings and ideas!


I wish you all ‘Happy Reading’ and hope that you re-new your own interest in books through watching and encouraging your child in having so much fun!