As your child gains developmental skills, reading with her will evolve. Below we’ll explore that evolution from months 0-24. Yes, we said zero! The American Academy of Pediatrics and others recommend reading to your baby as early as possible.
Remember that all children develop differently and these stages are based on averages. If you’re worried about your child’s development, your pediatrician can offer guidance.
At this stage your baby’s vision is still weak, so she may enjoy books with bold, black and white or high-contrast color illustrations. This is a popular one. Nursery rhymes like the ones in this book may soothe her, because she’s used to hearing the rhythmic beat of mama’s heart in the womb. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of nursery rhymes and other rhythmic, rhyming books (a la Dr. Seuss); your child will likely love them through age 2 and beyond.
Thanks to budding fine motor skills, your baby will touch the book or try to clumsily hold it or put it in her mouth. This is a good time to introduce books that incorporate different textures, like rough, bumpy or fuzzy illustrations (here’s a popular one).
Your baby’s attention span for reading may increase to a few minutes at a time. She can now hold a book, touch the pictures, and easily put it in her mouth. She is interested in pictures of other babies and facial expressions, so books with large images of babies’ faces expressing different emotions may be a favorite at this stage (like this or this).
Your baby’s ability to imitate sounds means she can repeat sounds or simple words while you read to her. She can turn pages of board books with help, and may enjoy books with flaps that open to reveal hidden surprises. Other interactive features like mirrors are fun at this stage, too. Here’s a classic that your baby will enjoy in different ways as her fine motor skills evolve.
Your now toddler loves to choose her own books from different options. She points to pictures she likes and, when prompted, can point to some familiar objects. She imitates animal sounds and is interested in body parts, so books like this and this are great for this stage.
Your toddler can now point to major body parts in pictures and make animal sounds on her own. During this stage she begins to follow short story lines. If you leave a word off a sentence in a familiar book, she can fill in the blank. She makes her own comments about what she sees in books, often combining 2 words. If you’re reading a book with thin pages, she can turn 2 or 3 pages at a time. This is a fun, interactive reading stage because she’s animated and chatty.
Your toddler can identify some colors and may enjoy books like this one. She can also memorize simple parts of her favorite books. She may enjoy story time at the library. Right around her second birthday, she can finally turn thin book pages one by one.
Reading is jam-packed with developmental support, so be sure to head over to our article with tips for maximizing reading time with your little one.