TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, July 21, 2014

Babies need books — and not just for chewing!

It all begins when you read to your baby.

No baby is too young to benefit from being read to! Faced with a newborn, concepts such as vocabulary and a love of books may seem remote, but even the youngest baby will often calm and seem attentive when she hears the sound of familiar voices reading in a gentle cadence. Studies show that babies in utero calm when the mother slows down and reads aloud to her baby.  

When read to, babies hear and learn words and also build an early interest in books and enjoyment of reading. Reading to babies provides them with the interaction and experience they need to learn about both the sounds that form words and spoken language in general. Numerous studies confirm that reading to infants not only encourages speech and language development, but can also boost overall brainpower.   
Physicians and researchers have known about the value of this experience for decades. The pediatric literacy program Reach Out and Read has been prescribing books and reading to low-income families for more than 20 years. Now, all pediatricians are on board with this practice!

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced a new policy recommending that doctors “promote early literacy development as an important evidence-based intervention at health supervision visits for children beginning in infancy and continuing at least until the age of school entry.”

In other words, during well-child visits, medical professionals with training in early literacy development will give parents concrete and age-appropriate advice about books and reading, and prescribe a regular reading schedule at home.  

Here are some favorite titles to help fill that prescription:

Babies love faces! The Baby Faces series of board books by Cartwheel Books (Scholastic) offers titles filled with faces of adorable babies sleeping, eating and smiling. Read the brief rhyming text (available in English or Spanish) or make up your own stories about what these captivating babies are doing. The expressions you make as you share these board books will help your baby learn to communicate.

As babies get older, they will want to handle books beyond putting them in their mouths. Look for titles with tactile appeal and lift-the-flap action like Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Random House Children's Books) or Where is Maisy? (A Lift-the-Flap Book) by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick Press).

Books that rhyme and play with words and sounds will entertain and engage both parent and child. Have some silly reading fun with Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) or Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss (Random House Children’s Books).

Just as important as reading is talking and singing with your baby. Like reading, sharing conversation and songs help to increase the number of words kids hear during their earliest years — and helps build social and communication skills. If you’re not sure how to keep conversations going with your infant, brush up on Mother Goose or your favorite show tunes and watch just how much your baby enjoys the attention and the sound of your voice.

Guest blog post by TRC Advisory Council member and Belle of the Book, Rachael Walker.

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