By Reach Out and Read of Greater New York

Reading aloud to young children and talking together every day helps create secure relationships and a strong foundation for learning. Reach Out and Read of Greater New York (ROR GNY) is committed to partnering with pediatricians to arm them with books to prescribe to their patients at well-child exams. We also equip them to teach parents how to foster a love of reading and early literacy skills in their young children. Talk to your pediatrician if youd like them to become one of our program sites.

Since we want to encourage you to read to your kids every day, starting at birth, here are four tips for each developmental stage, to help you share books effectively and start to instill in them a love of reading.

The first year

  • Babies love your voice: sing, talk and read aloud as often as possible.
  • Babies love picture books and books with rhymes.
  • When you read to your baby, youre teaching him that sitting on your lap and being read to feels good and that books are enjoyable.
  • Its okay if your child eats the book! This is how babies explore and learn about their world.

12 to 18 months

  • If you ask Whats that? and then name the picture, your baby will learn the names for things.
  • Once babies start to walk, holding them on your lap can be a struggle. Some children will want to move around during a story. Thats OK.
  • Read stories every day, but let your child help decide how long you read.
  • When your child grabs the book, she is showing a healthy drive for independence.

18 to 36 months

  • Stories are a good way to help toddlers increase their attention spans. If your toddler listens to a story for five minutes, thats a long time. As children grow, they will sit longer.
  • Sometimes you dont have to read whats actually written on the page. You can just talk about the pictures, or make up a story about whats happening.
  • Children learn by imitating. Does she ever read to her teddy bears or dolls? Does she see you read?
  • One way children learn to read and learn new words is by hearing the same story again and again. It might be boring to you, but it isnt to him. Toddlers enjoy the repetition.

3 years and up

  • Talk about the pictures, and the story. Ask who, what and where questions. And remember to give your child time to answer.
  • Your child might want to tell you a story. Every time she retells a favorite story, or changes the story, she is practicing using language in a very important way.
  • Scribbling and pretend writing is the first step toward real writing. Does he ever pretend to write? Do you ever show him the letters in his name?
  • Do you have a library card? Going to the library regularly opens up the world inside books. Notice your preschoolers interests and let her help choose which books to take home.

Note: This guidance is general and may not reflect your childs development. If you have any questions about your childs development, consult with his or her healthcare provider.

About Reach Out and Read of Greater New York: Studies show that reading aloud has an impact on brain development and language acquisition as early as six months of age. Reach Out and Read of Greater New York prepares young children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. ROR GNY provides books, training and support to 202 program sites in 13 counties in the Greater New York Region. The organization has trained 5,500+ doctors, nurses and volunteers in the Reach Out and Read model and distributes nearly 400,000 free books to a quarter-of-a-million children each year.

For more information and for resources for parents and physicians visit

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