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If you want me to read, read to me NOW

Updated on December 9, 2013

How to get little ones addicted to reading!

When my now grown children were small - and I mean, very small --I would read to them -- usually as part of their nap time or bed time routine. They all turned out to be book junkies and it pleases me to see them pass this addiction on to their own children!

Most of what I see about reading to children these days seems to have to do with teaching young children how to read -- this is a very small piece on reading to the very young NOT with the direct idea of teaching them to read, but for a couple of different reasons.

Reading doesn't need to exclude other activities children enjoy - video games, watching television, playing sports or other activities. Reading is another activitiy - but one that can be useful and joyful for many years.

picture is from flickr's Common Ground location CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

"The single most important activity

for building the knowledge required for eventual success

is reading aloud to children."


"Becoming a Nation of Readers,"

a national report by the Commission on Reading

A few key points to instill a love of reading in a child

A child's learning to love to read doesn't happen suddenly. It's something you get to nurture in your child.

The key ingredient? Read to your child from an early age...

Here's a short list of how to encourage a child to read!

* Have books around the house...books you own or library books...newspapers, magazines!

* Make regular trips to the library from early on...ditto bookstores if you are so inclined. Visit the children's sections in both, especially during any reading days.

* Have at least one scheduling reading time a day - usually bedtime works well.

* Have books available for your child from early on - there are books suitable for all ages!

* Read while the doctor's office, in the car, anywhere.. always have a book handy!

* Let your child observe you reading your books ...

5 Reasons To Read to Young Children

...there are probably 100 more!

1) Reading to young children is a way to build a relationship with your child or grandchild.

2) Reading to young children shows them that you find reading enjoyable - it's not something you have them do by themselves, it's something you enjoy too!

3) Reading to and later with young children is a way to instill in them a love of reading...(and a love of reading will, later, give them a desire to learn to read.)

4) Encouraging young children to love reading will give them a habit of reading -- not as a chore, but as something enjoyable that will lead them away from passively watching television (because when you read, you have to cast the characters and setting yourself!)

5) Reading good books to a child opens the doors to an understanding and passion for self education that will stay with the child and later the adult for years.

Bookplates (labels that go inside of a book) are something children see as stickers . They are inexpensive reading rewards, year round! Good as stocking stuffers at Christmas, Halloween candy replacements, birthday presents and new baby gifts along with a good book!

This book is an aide for parents, grandparents who might want some help on knowing more about the best ways (and perhaps why) to read to young children.

This book is a good investment for new parents - or for yourself (whoever you may be!) It has lists of books, tips you didn't even think you needed - all aimed not at teaching children HOW to read.. but teaching them to WANT to read.

Types of Books for the Very Young

Baby with a Cloth Book

There are different types of books appropriate for the under 4 group.

Many books come in all forms -- here's a little explanation of the types and who or what they are best for.

See further down suggested book titles for each of these categories.

  • Cloth books Made especially for infants, these are chewable, washable, squeezable books... Not really meant for reading to an infant, they still are baby's first book. They'll be outgrown and tossed aside by the time your infant reaches 18 months, but meanwhile - they are virtually indestructable books to be drooled and slobbered on and loved!
  • Board books - Usually baby's first real book is a board book -- almost indestructible, these can be used to read to a baby with and babies past the chewing stage will enjoy "reading" them alone, too. Warning: Dogs and teething infants can chew them up.
  • Interactive or touchy books For the 3 and up group alone, These are the books you see in the doctor's office that have pull out tabs that are broken or missing -- I used to hate these because my little ones would always rip them apart. No suggestions made on these - you'll receive them as gifts (and I couldn't find any I really liked to suggest).
  • Picture books Over 3 can "read" these alone, but be prepared to find drawings or attempts at writing in them. That's something that makes them dearer later on, as long as you can still read the book, don't worry about it! Kids, if left with a crayon or other writing device nearby, are going to try to write in a book.

Suggested Cloth or Activity Books..

These are just a few of the cloth or activity books around -- if you click on these, you'll also find more titles available, along with reviews. These are absolutely the best books to start with!

Sleepy Bunny (Pat the Bunny Cloth Book)
Sleepy Bunny (Pat the Bunny Cloth Book)

Start with this sleepy bunny as one of baby's first books -- later on (see Interactive book list) add Pat the Bunny.

Wash it, then hand it over and don't worry about it. It's also interactive but pretty indestructible!

My First Taggies Book: If You're Happy and You Know It
My First Taggies Book: If You're Happy and You Know It

I promise - this is a winner. If you know the song, you can sing it (if you're happy and you know it clap your hands). If you don't want to do the singing, just read the book to your child, letting the little one pull and touch the taggies -- appropriate for under 1 up to until they are ready to move on. This is a great book!

My First Taggies Book: Hey Diddle Diddle
My First Taggies Book: Hey Diddle Diddle

Another winner in the cloth book type, this has the familiar nursery rhyme and cute pictures and the taggies (hence the title) which babies love to play with. Again, suitable for very young babies to be read to. And yes, they can chew read it alone. But use it to read to a baby and you're going to get your baby hooked on books early!

Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)
Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)

This is the classic baby activity book -- everybody has received at least one! First published in 1940, it's still one of the top-sellers. Obviously it's timeless and doing something right!

Pat the Cat (Pat the Bunny) (Touch-and-Feel)
Pat the Cat (Pat the Bunny) (Touch-and-Feel)

If you're giving a baby shower gift, you might want to give this one instead of Pat the Bunny... this version is done by the daughter of the author of Pat the Bunny and still gets good reviews! Babies do like to Pat those Cats!


Suggested Board Books to start with

Board books are the first serious books (well, more serious than the washable books!) because in addition to your using these to read to your child, if you leave some of these down where your baby can crawl to them, you may find the future reader sitting on the floor, "reading" alone...

You want your infant to love to read? This old fashioned, simple book is the one to start with -- why? The words are easy, repetitious and short -- and on each page is a tiny mouse your baby will love to look for and will be thrilled to find! This is a book you'll come to love to hate because of the repetition but your little one will love it. It will be read again and again and again. This should be one of the first books in your infant / baby's library.


Babies love to learn and they're continually learning about themselves. This book has parts to identify -- " Where are Baby's hands? Under the bubbles! Where are baby's eyes?". This is a popular book among babies -- parents comments that bring it from a 5 star to a 4 star have to do with babies ripping it up. Please note my comments on reading to infants and toddlers. The idea is not to give them a book and expect them to read it or look at it themselves! Of course they're going to tear at a book that has flaps and pull out pieces. At this age, reading is interactive! This is a great book to read to with baby!

Freight Train Board Book (Caldecott Collection)
Freight Train Board Book (Caldecott Collection)

I was thrilled to find this one in a Board Book -- my sons (neither of them as mad about trains as is my youngest grandson) loved this book in paperback format. Few words, the ones it has are the colors of the cars. You get to see different cars in the train, and learn colors too... A great book that isn't Thomas -- but even Thomas addictts like this one!

My Very First Library: My Very First Book of Colors, My Very First Book of Shapes, My Very First Book of Numbers, My Very First Books of Words
My Very First Library: My Very First Book of Colors, My Very First Book of Shapes, My Very First Book of Numbers, My Very First Books of Words

No board book selection is complete without the addition of Eric Carle's books: This boxed set includes My Very First Book of Colors, My Very First Book of Shapes, My Very First Book of Numbers, and My Very First Book of Words.

A Color of His Own
A Color of His Own

Now available in a board book edition, the charming story of a chameleon searching for his own color, who ends up finding a true friend.

Elephants are gray. Pigs are pink. Only the chameleon has no color of his own. He is purple like the heather, yellow like a lemon, even black and orange striped like a tiger! Then one day a chameleon has an idea to remain one color forever by staying on the greenest leaf he can find. But in the autumn, the leaf changes from green to yellow to red . . . and so does the chameleon. When another chameleon suggests they travel together, he learns that companionship is more important than having a color of his own. No matter where he goes with his new friend, they will always be alike.

Colorful illustrations and spare prose make this charming love story perfect for a board book edition to introduce the heartwarming fables of Lionni to toddlers.


Suggested Picture Books

You can buy these at any age -- but until your child is over 2 (minimum) these would be books that are kept out of reach, brought down at bed time or other special reading times.

My personal thoughts -- you can mix in books that are silly and simply, but don't shun a book because it seems too old (i.e. old-fashioned OR advanced) for your baby.

Read up to your baby sometimes. They are little sponges and they'll soak in what you read to them.

Are You My Mother ?
Are You My Mother ?

I admit - I'm picking family favorites. But this one was popular to the very young crowd I think because babies have an anxiety about separating from their mommy. In this little story, a little bird falls out of the nest, then goes to many different animals (and a tractor) asking each "Are you my Mommy?" until in the end, Mommy is found. Whew, what a relief! I have this memorized still -- that's how many times it was requested.

Go, Dog Go (I Can Read It All By Myself, Beginner Books)
Go, Dog Go (I Can Read It All By Myself, Beginner Books)

This story, too, was read so many times I have it still etched in my brain. And whoa be me, if I tried to skip a page. Simple, funny, enjoyable -- and the grown kids liked it so much, it is being read to their kids... that's a winner!

The Ugly Duckling (Caldecott Honor Book)
The Ugly Duckling (Caldecott Honor Book)

It's a classic storytale -- what makes this one special is the illustrations. This Caldecott Honor book is one that can hold an honorable place in your child's library -- take a look and see what you think of it.. A beautiful gift, too, and pleasurable to read to any child.

First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards))
First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards))

A book should be enjoyable for adults to read too.. and this one is... it's not just first the egg... there are other sequences inside... there's an egg, then a chicken... but also frog, flower, and butterfly.

Then the story turns toward other things -- first the paint, then the picture. then all are woven together and with a clever turn, we are back to the egg and the chick.

The Napping House
The Napping House

Though this is available as a huge board book, it seems like it is best as a picture book -- this is the story of a napping house-- starting with grandma on the bed. In comes a child and climbs on her... followed by the dog, the cat and...a flea. But the flea causes everyone to wake up, one by one and at the end, everyone is out of the house. Many say this makes a good bedtime story -- I read it and felt like it might wake a sleepy child up, but it's a beautifully illustrated picture book - written by a wife and illustrated by her husband.

Click on it to take a look see!



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