Thrive in 2025: Hit the Books!

Plant the Seed

family in bed reading

Stephanie Rausser

Reading together is one of the best ways to bond with your baby -- and to help her associate books with comfort.

Start early. Don't worry if your child isn't old enough to understand. Reading still benefits him. "We began when our son was still in my belly," says Samantha Vamos, author of the bilingual children's picture book The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred. "We wanted him to hear our voices articulating words over and over again."

Turn reading into a game. "It's a natural instinct to interact playfully with your baby," says Karen Katz, a mom whose brightly colored baby books are perennial favorites. While reading Where Is Baby's Belly Button? try identifying other body parts. Point to your nose and then hers and say, "Nose." Try a new one each day.

Feel the beat. Help your child pick up on the sounds of words by clapping out the syllables as you read to him and by picking rhythmic books such as Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.

Explain the basics. Say, "Open the book" as you lift the front cover and "Turn the page" as you demonstrate how to do it, suggests Katz. When you're finished, say, "All done."

Teach through touch. Babies learn about the world around them partly by exploring different textures. Look for cloth and touch-and-feel board books that your child can chew, hug, and crinkle in her hands.

Let her "read" in bed. Once it's safe for your child to sleep with objects in her crib (around 12 months), you should let her snuggle with a board book. "It's like a stuffed animal for her brain," says Erica S. Perl, a mom of two and the author of Dotty.

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