Interactive Reading With Infants and Toddlers

Babies as young as 5 months old may show interest in books.

“Interest” at this age means turning pages back and forth and putting the book in the mouth. Think of mouthing a book as a “pre-reading” skill!

By the time your baby is about 9 months old they may be sitting in your lap to look at the pictures with you.

  • You can turn the pages forward.
  • You can turn the pages backwards.
  • You can read from the middle to either side.
  • Don’t worry if your baby wants to turn the pages faster than you can read–turning pages is a developmental task!

It’s okay to just name objects on the page and say a few words about them, without reading all the words on the page.

From about 18-24 months old, when your baby is familiar with a book, you can ask your baby:

  • “Where is the….?” (Name something on the page and see if your baby can point to it.)
  • “What is this?” (Point to an object on the page.)

You and also start putting simple 2–3-word sentences together, based on the objects on the page.

For example, “Red ball! “Big ball!” “Look–a ball!” “Hi, ball!”

You can do this in addition to reading the story. It will encourage your baby to copy you putting 2-3 words together.

When your toddler is close to 2 1/2 years old, you can start working on the action taking place in the story.

For example, “Oh, look–the cat is drinking milk! What is the dog doing?”

Some good starter books for infants and toddlers:

Dr. Seuss’s 100 First Words
Why I like it:
Lots of concrete items from everyday life in a baby’s world (as well as farm and wild animals). You can also use it to begin to build simple 2–3-word sentences inspired by the pictures.

Baby: First Words! By DK
Why I like it:
Easily recognizable objects, many of which appear in a baby’s world.

 

Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions by Abrams Appleseed
Why I like it:
Babies love looking at babies, and you can also use it to introduce simple words like eyes, nose, smile. Fun to match (name?) emotions in the pictures!

My First Busy Book, by Eric Carle
Why I like it:
Lots of different concepts, as simple as one word but that can also be used to help toddlers put 2-3 words together. Includes a mirror and interactive flap and touch and feel pages.

Pat the Bunny, by Dorothy Kunhardt
Why I like it:
Simple and classic. Interactive touch and feel with lots of opportunity for saying single words as well as 2–3-word sentences AND reading a story together.

Where is Baby’s Belly Button, by Karen Katz
Why I like it:
Interactive lift-the-flap perfect for 2-year-olds. Practice learning simple body parts with a peek-a-book game.

See recommendations for children 3 years old and up: https://www.parenttrust.org/for-families/parenting-advice/books-and-reading/