Sharing books together is the single most important thing that you can do to help your child learn to read. As you share books with your baby, they are listening to your voice and learning new words. They are also enjoying a cosy cuddle with you and learning that reading is fun.
You and your baby are at the very beginning of your reading journey together. As you share books, your baby is watching and learning early reading skills like how to hold a book and turn the pages.
Remember it is never too early to start sharing books with your baby!
How to share books with your baby
Sharing books is a great way to play together. Sit or lie so that you can see both your baby’s face and the book. This helps you talk about what they are focusing on.
Try to choose a time when your baby is alert and interested. Don’t worry if you don’t finish the book. It’s okay if you only share a book for a few minutes at a time. As they get older your baby will want to reach out and hold the book themselves. This is all part of the learning process. Help them hold the book and turn the pages. Don’t worry about reading all the words, just talk about what you can see.
Your baby will love exploring books by putting them in their mouth. Let your baby hold, feel and explore books in this way. This will make sharing books a fun experience for your baby. When they are having fun they are engaged and learning.
It’s a great idea to make sharing books a part of your everyday routine. Pack books in your nappy bag, in the car and in the bottom of the pram. This means that whenever your child is looking for some fun, there is an opportunity to share a well-loved book. Did you know that you can even get water-proof books that you can share in the bath?
Top books for babies
Your baby will enjoy short books with simple pictures or photographs. They will enjoy stories about babies and real-life objects as well as books that have great rhythm and rhyme. It is also a great idea to choose ‘board’ books. These are made out of thick cardboard and are very durable. Your little one can hold the book and turn the pages without any fear of destruction!
Choose books that:
- are about babies;
- have simple pictures or photographs;
- are durable – thick cardboard, cloth or plastic; and
- have interactive elements like textures, flaps, pop-ups and mirrors.
Five great books for babies
- Baby Faces (DK Publishing)
- Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd)
- Hello Baby (Mem Fox & Steve Jenkins)
- Peepo (Janet and Allen Ahlberg)
- Kissed by the Moon (Alison Lester)
Top ten tips for sharing books with your baby
- Choose a time when your baby is happy and alert.
- Find a quiet place to share books together. Turn off your phone, the TV and the radio so there are no distractions.
- Let your child reach out and touch the book.
- Help your older baby hold the book and turn the pages.
- Sit so you can see your child’s face and the book.
- Talk about what you can see.
- Read the same books over and over.
- Visit the library and enjoy story time with your baby.
- Take books with you everywhere you go.
- Remember it’s never too early to start sharing books with your baby!
Want to know more?
Zero to Three – How to introduce toddlers and babies to books
The Raising Children Network – Reading with babies from birth
The little big book club – Books for babies