By now, you and your baby will be settling into a daily rhythm and it will be easier to find the best times during the day to introduce books and reading. These reading tips will help you build on your regular reading routines and share some new ways to make your home a book friendly zone. By taking time each day for reading aloud, you are giving your baby a great gift – reading, talking and playing with your baby helps them learn new words and skills and they will begin to associate books and reading with the joy and fun you share together.
By making reading part of your regular family routine, you will be helping your child learn important language skills that will help give them a great start in school and you will be nurturing a love of reading that will last a lifetime. Two important ways you can build your regular reading routines are to set aside time each night for bedtime reading, and to take time to regularly visit your public library.
A bedtime reading routine is easy to start. Not only is it a relaxing and fun time for you and your baby, it will help your baby transition to bedtime. A bedtime reading routine should ﬁt with your family’s schedule, so set it up so that it works best for you and your child: you can read books before bath time or after bath time, you can read before brushing teeth or after, but the important thing is to keep the pattern the same every night. Your baby will start to associate bedtime with the comfort and pleasure of cuddling up with you to read, a time they will look forward to each night.
Find a comfortable, quiet place to cuddle up together. Have books within easy reach of where you read each night. As your child grows, your reading routine will change. In the beginning, you may read a couple of short books, but as your child’s attention span grows, they will be able to listen to books that are a little longer in length. Eventually, your child will become interested in picture books. A great way to keep the books you read each night fresh and interesting is to borrow books regularly from your local library.
Libraries offer something for everyone in your family! You can borrow books, CDs, DVDs and more – all for free, for the whole family. The staff at your local library can help you find the best books for your baby, toddler and preschooler. Many libraries have regular playgroups or baby programs. They are great places to learn new activities and to meet other families with babies. You may have to register for a playgroup or baby program, so call ahead to find out. You can register for your baby’s very own library card by visiting your local library. To find your closest library in Nova Scotia, visit publiclibraries.ns.ca
Read aloud to your baby every day – Your baby won’t always be in the mood for a story, so watch for times during the day when they are quiet and calm and ready to be read to. You will both love the time spent reading together – it will build memories that will last a lifetime.
Make sure that books are easily available – Baskets, toy boxes, bedrooms are all great places to have books ready and waiting to be read. Book stores, toy stores and second hand stores are great places to pick up books for your child. You can also borrow free books from your local library.
Be a reading role model – when your child sees you reading they will understand that reading is important to you and they’ll want to join in on the fun.
Take your child to the library – libraries have great collections of board books for babies, as well as picture books and non-fiction books for preschoolers and older children. Your child will love to select their own books and carry them home in their Read to Me! bag. Many libraries also feature story times for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Eat together as a family – The family that eats together, talks together. Research shows that the children of families who eat together develop better reading and language skills.
Find books about things that interest your child – As your baby’s attention span grows, you can start to read simple picture books, concept books about shapes, ABCs and numbers, and books about topics that they love. Does your baby love animals? Try reading Sandra Boynton’s fun board book Barnyard Dance or check out a great lift-the- flap book, Noisy Farm from DK Publishing.
Take books with you wherever you go – on a trip, on a visit to the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store – these can be great times to entertain and distract your child with a book.
Get everyone involved – grandparents, older siblings, babysitters and others will love to share books with your child.
Talk to your baby – Your baby is listening to you and collecting words that will give them a rich vocabulary when they start to talk.
When your baby was younger they loved simply being held, and listening to your voice as you read. Now that your child is getting older and learning new skills, the way you read aloud will change. As your child’s vocabulary grows, the two of you will be able to talk about the stories and pictures in the books you share. And as your child develops their own interests you’ll want to find books about the things they love.
Toddlers are more mobile and independent. They may want to sit on your lap while you read, but some toddlers prefer to play nearby and listen as you read. Be flexible and creative – there is no right or wrong way to read aloud.
Ask your child questions as you read. By talking about the story and asking ‘What’ questions, you will be helping them learn new words and add to their interest and understanding of a topic. For instance, if you’re reading a book about different kinds of vehicles, point to a picture in the book and ask “What’s this?” When your child tells you it’s a truck, keep the conversation going by saying “Yes! It’s a big, yellow truck. What’s the truck doing? That’s right! Its dumping sand!”
Select board books about everyday activities, like eating or playing, as well as books about things your child is interested in.
Keep your reading sessions short, but read often.
Let your toddler select the books they want to hear or look at.
Does your toddler love trains? Talk to the staff at your local library or book store – they can help you find age-appropriate books that feature your child’s interests. This will extend and enhance your child’s interest in a topic.
There are many ways you can help your child build their language skills: reading, singing, chanting rhymes or just talking. Simply talking to your child during the day is a wonderful way to help them build their vocabulary and learn how to tell a story.
Keep it fun and enjoyable!
For great lists of books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, visit us at
Phone: (902) 470-6487 or (902) 470-7763
IWK Health Centre
5850/5980 University Avenue
PO Box 9700
Halifax, NS B3K 6R8
Fax: (902) 470-8785
We have been overwhelmed with the great gifts that we received from your program in the hospital! Thank you!
- Mary K.