Reading with your baby or toddler can be a great way to find quiet space in a busy day or end a nighttime routine that includes a warm bath and lots of snuggles. Your soothing voice teaches baby that reading is pleasurable and fun.
Even reading just 3 minutes a day—1 short story every night before bedtime—will help your child learn throughout life, say experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Start with these top reading strategies and some of the best new books this year, and set the stage for a lifetime love of reading and sharing books together.
Choose age-appropriate books: Newborns and young babies love high-contrast; look for the many collections of black-and-white board books.
Name things in pictures: Baby won’t learn to read for years to come but you’re building her language foundation.
Talk about the pictures: Describe how the pictures relate to the story; as baby gets older ask her to point to familiar objects in a picture, like a dog or cat.
Create a library: Babies and toddlers need quality choices over quantity. Pick out a few (less than 6) great books and put them in a safe location, such as a canvas container, in her room. Rotate books every week or two with others you have stored away.
Ten Tiny Toes, by Todd Tarpley, Little, Brown
Since baby was in your belly, he has been fascinated with his toes. Celebrate all of the places his feet will go—from the crib to his first steps—in this tender reader. “Babies are the greatest invention of all time, that there’s nothing as wonderful as the giggle of a toddler, and no job more important than being a parent,” says the author, who treasures celebrating milestones.
That’s What I Would Do, by Jewel, Simon & Schuster
Singer-songwriter Jewel touches on the love a mother has for her child all day long in this lyrical book that’s accompanied by a lullaby CD. Perfect for bedtime reading.
Bye-Bye Baby Brother, by Sheena Dempsey, Candlewick
Don’t leave out older siblings when a new baby comes along. Instead share the changes a new baby can place on a family in this whimsical fantasy of an older sibling who craves sending her new brother to a far, far away place. Find out what happens when protagonist Ruby envisions a way for mom and her to go along for the ride. Available early 2013.
Ma! There’s Nothing to Do Here! A Word from your Baby-in-Waiting, by Barbara Park, Random House
This is a great gift for a first-time mom, or new sibling, as popular Junie B. Jones author Barbra Park goes in utero for a rhyming description of life on the inside before birth. This is also a top pick among reviewers on grandparents.com