Age-by-Age Guide to Reading to Your Baby

13 to 24 Months

13 to 18 months: Now you can begin to introduce books with a sentence or two per page. The sillier you are while acting out the story, the better. For instance, if you're reading about animals, make animal noises. Your baby will think it's really funny, Cowan says. Sooner or later, he will "moo" or "baa" back to you and you'll be ready to fall off the couch laughing.

Invite participation by asking questions such as "What does the dog say?" or "Do you see the cat?" Ask your baby to point to real-life examples of what's pictured, ("Where's your nose?"). At this age, you can show more pictures of things your baby doesn't encounter every day. Also, at 15 to 18 months, your baby may be able to answer questions with a word, so give her the opportunities by asking, "What's that?" If she answers, you can boost her vocabulary by expanding on her thought:" Yes, car. That's a big green car."

19 to 24 months: Many toddlers find the familiar routine of reading reassuring and calming. The same goes for familiar books. This helps explain why, starting at about 18 months, children may ask for the same book over and over and over -- and why they won't let you change your reading performance by a single "meow" or "vroom." However, this dogged repetition has a learning benefit as well: Experts think it helps children make sense of and then remember new words.

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