Tips for Reading With Newborns to Age 5

Awhile back, my Aunt Margaret sent me a deck of cards from a library in Nebraska filled with reading tips for each month of life from birth to age 5.  I thought it was such a great resource that I would tweak the ideas and share them with you.  It’s never to early to start reading with children!

Tips for reading with young children from

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Tips for Reading with Young Children

Newborn to 6 Months

  • You can start reading with your child the day you bring them home from the hospital.  Though your child doesn’t understand the words, the sound of your voice is music to their ears.
  • Bold and simply illustrated books held about 10 inches away from your child work best.  Some examples include Black on White and White on Black by Tana Hoban, Spot books by Eric Hill and Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin.

6 Months to 12 Months

  • Babies love to put everything in their mouth.  Board books, cloth books and vinyl books work best for this age.   Here is a list of my son’s first year favorites board books at this age.
  • Make reading part of your daily routine.  You might share a favorite book before nap or bedtime.

1 Year to 2 Years

  • Start asking questions like, “Can you find the cat?”  Questioning encourages your child to interact with the text.
  • You will also start to notice that your child has a strong preference for certain books.  Even though you are tired of reading the same book 100 times, your child is delighting in the comfort and familiarity that books bring.
  • Children at this age really enjoy repetitive text and predictable books.  You might check out:  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle or Time for Bed by Mem Fox.

2 Years to 3 Years

  • Your toddler is probably pretty active and will enjoy acting out stories.  We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, Bark, George by Jules Feiffer and The Wheels on the Bus by Paul O. Zelinksy fit the bill.
  • They also love to hear stories about themselves.  So, don’t hesitate to substitute their name in place of character names in a story.  You can even make up stories about your family.
  • Your child’s vocabulary is rapidly developing.  Each book you read broadens that vocabulary.
  • Also, encourage your child to notice the fine details in illustrations.  I’m always amazed at what my son finds in the pictures that I miss!

3 Years to 4 Years

  • Include books from a variety of cultures on your reading shelf.
  • Your child’s taste and attention span are expanding.   If your child doesn’t have their own library card, now is a good time to get them one.  They will love the ownership of having their own card to check books out from your local library.
  • While at the library, check into preschool story time.  Most libraries host several events each month.

4 Years to 5 Years

  • Picture books can help with major events in your child’s life such as starting school, a new sibling in the house or the death of a pet.
  • Kids at this age generally have a strong interest in nature.  Look for books on topics that interest your child.  You can check out  recommendations on my book list page.
  • Your child may not be taking a nap anymore, but having a quiet book time in the afternoon may help to refresh everyone.
  • Children may take an interest in reading the words themselves.  Don’t push your child though if they aren’t ready.  You want to keep reading time fun.
  • Some preschoolers are ready to listen to chapter book read-alouds.  Check out these tips for reading chapter books to preschoolers.

I hope you find this list useful in helping nurture our youngest readers.

P.S. For more great book recommendations and  literacy ideas, we send out a weekly newsletter. You can see a sample here.  If you like what you see, sign up to receive it for FREE each week.

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About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.


  1. Brittany @ Love, Play, Learn says:

    Thank you for this post. It has many great tips! I will be sharing it on my blog tomorrow for my Kid’s Co-op Roundup.

  2. Wonderful resource! Pinning this to my Parent Share Board!

  3. Please parents don’t wait to check out storytimes at your local library! One of the libraries near me has a storytime specifically for children ages birth-twelve months; we took my son at 5 weeks and he loved it! He’s 2.5 now and we go to storytime every week! He’s now at the age where he wants to go and look at the books in the children’s section and check them out – that is when he’s not demanding I find him books about trains.

    • Megan, that’s great that your library offers activities for babies! One of the local libraries near us does too. My 2 year-old always has special topic requests when we visit also.


  1. […] Reading With: Did you child come home with a book today from school?  Try reading it with her.  Take turns reading every other page.  For more, check out Jodie’s Shared Reading ideas and Tips for Reading With Newborns to Age 5. […]

  2. […] 2.  Tips for Reading with Newborns to Age 5 […]