How to Read to Babies Under 2

This article is an excerpt from: “Exploring Books with Babies” by Susan Straub which can be found on It can take a lot of patience to get through even a short picture book with a baby, but you'll be rewarded with a child who's received an excellent start to literacy — and life. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin the journey with your budding reader:

Where To Start:

  • Expand your child's "library." Very little babies have no real idea what you're reading, so why not read aloud to her from whatever you're reading, like a novel or a magazine? That way you both get to hear terrific stories together.

  • Keep books handy. Stow board books in your stroller, diaper bag, car, near the highchair, at the changing table, or even in the bathtub (there are some wonderful waterproof bath books). You'll always have a book ready to distract and entertain.

  • Read enthusiastically. Use silly voices, make animal sounds, and read with drama.

  • Point to pictures. For your pre-literate baby, illustrations are just as important (sometimes more so) than words. Don't feel you have to read every page every time, but do point at the pictures ("Look at the green car!" "Where's the moon?") as you flip pages.

Always Remember:

  • It can be helpful to switch up your reading pace. Speed up or slow down, depending on your baby's interest.

  • It’s okay if your little one crawls away. Two things to remember about a toddler: he is more interested in moving than sitting still, and he can still hear you. Keep reading — he'll come back (and if not, you can try again later).

  • Not every book has to be finished! For your baby or toddler, the process is more important than the outcome. You may not have reached the end of the book, but you did share some nice reading time together.

  • Get new books but keep the old ones too. Even when he grows into the next stage, he may like to revisit her old, gummed, and torn favorites.

For more dos and don’ts of exploring reading with baby head to