Parent Tips for Raising a Reader

Pre-Talkers (Birth – 2 Years)


You baby loves hearing your voice.

  • Make up stories, explain what you’re doing, and ask your baby questions.
  • You baby will begin to respond with facial expressions.
  • Talking to your baby helps language development and increases brain activity.
  • Babies who are spoken to will begin to participate in conversations, responding with coos and gurgles.


Singing is another way your baby learns language.

  • Sing while holding your baby and she will feel your voice as well as hear it.
  • Repeat songs again and again.  Babies love repetition.  Repeating songs also helps your baby to hear small sounds (pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake).
  • Sing at bath time, in the car and everywhere in between.  Your baby will try to sing along, cooing and babbling with you.

Sign Language

Babies are capable of learning simple sign language.

  • Teach your baby simple signs such as cup, more, all done and clean up.
  • Signing with your baby helps you communicate with more ease and reduces baby’s stress levels.
  • Babies who are taught to sign learn to speak faster and have larger vocabularies.


  • Allow your baby to play with books and other safe items.
  • Shaking, throwing, tugging and tasting are how your baby will explore books.  Use sturdy board books or cloth books at this age.
  • Let her play freely with the book, discovering how pages turn and finding more pictures inside.


Sharing books with your baby is a bonding experience.

  • Set aside regular reading times every day – nap time, after meals and bedtime are good examples.
  • Choose books that your child will enjoy.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit away from distractions such as the television, radio, computers, phones and other devices.
  • Be sure to hold the book so that your baby can see the picture and words.
  • Encourage your baby to participate in the story by asking her to point to specific pictures and say simple words.
  • Talk to the baby about what you see in the book.
  • Reread your baby’s favorite stories again and again.
  • Keep plenty of books around your home.  Borrow books from the library so you always have new titles to share with your baby.
  • Take books in the car, to the grocery store and to appointments.  Read with your baby while you wait.

And remember, always keep reading times fun.  Keep it short.  If your baby becomes fussy or loses interest simply move on to another activity.  Reading with your child should be a fun, stress-free, bonding time.


Talkers (2 Years – 3 years)

In addition to Talking, Singing, Signing, Playing, and Reading (above)


  • Engage your toddler in the stories you read by asking questions.  Ask what questions such as, “What animal is this?” or “What color is the frog?” Affirm your toddler’s answers: “Yes, the frog is green.”
  • If your toddler struggles to answer, supply the correct response.  Encourage your toddler to repeat what you’ve said.
  • Ask open-ended questions that allow and encourage your toddler to respond with more than one word.  For example, ask questions such as, “What do you see on this page?”  Your toddler may still need help.  Provide full sentence responses, asking your toddler to repeat after you.  “The frog is jumping into the pond.”
  • Expand upon your toddler’s responses.  When she says, “Bunny hop,” you can respond with, “Yes, the bunny rabbit is hopping to the flowers.”
  • Encourage your toddler’s listening skills.  Remember, if she is answering your questions she is listening even when she is not looking at you.


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