“How do I get my child to love reading?”

I genuinely believe that a child who is a ‘reading enthusiast’ at school age, started their love-affair with reading on the laps of their parents, as a baby. Keep reading for book recommendations below.

A baby is never too young to be read to! Before a child can begin to learn to read themselves, research suggests that they need to hear a THOUSAND books read aloud. If you read one book to your child a day, they will have heard a thousand by the age of three. Do not panic; this does not mean you need to buy your child a thousand books… like all play in the early years, REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT!

One of the best ways to build reading into your child’s life, is by establishing a regular ‘Story-Time’ routine from babyhood. This should be a special (and enjoyable) time, that occurs every day, in a quiet and inviting space; most parents find that this works well built into the bedtime routine. 

Some ideas for Story-time

When choosing which book(s) to read:

  • Choose some of your child’s favourite books
  • Choose books with appealing illustrations
  • Choose books rich in rhyme, rhythm, and repetition… did someone say Julia Donaldson?! 
  • Read books with a good storyline
  • Encourage your child to choose their own books

During story-time:

  • Choose somewhere comfortable to sit with your child
  • Read expressively, varying your voice (low/high, slow/fast, loud/soft)
  • If your child becomes frustrated or tired, quietly conclude story-time

6 months old+

  • Show your baby how to turn the pages 
  • If reading a book with animals or vehicles, encourage your baby to copy the sounds e.g.  “moo”, always giving more time than you think for your baby to respond
  • Talk about how a book has a front cover, back cover, and spine

12 months old +

  • (Continue with the above) 
  • Talk about how the author writes the words (and their name is written on the front cover) 
  • Talk about how the illustrator draws the pictures (and their name is also written on the front cover) 
  • As you read, encourage your child to engage with and point at illustrations

2 years old +

  • (Continue with the above) 
  • Encourage your child to point at examples of ‘writing’
  • Talk about the direction of writing (how we read from left to right)
  • Start to talk about the characters and illustrations 

3 years old +

  • (Continue with the above) 
  • Start to talk about the storylines
  • At an appropriate point in a story, you could ask your child if they can guess what may happen next 
  • Encourage your child to join in with repeated words and phrases
  • Ask your child “why?” questions e.g. “Why was baby bear (in Goldilocks and the three bears) upset?” 

N.B. Try and ask open ended questions e.g. “What would you do if someone ate your porridge?” instead of closed questions e.g., “Would you be sad if someone ate your porridge?”. 

Read anywhere, anytime!

Reading should not be limited to just story-time; demonstrate to your child that reading is a wonderful part of everyday life. When you are out and about, encourage your child to look for writing on signs, number plates, restaurant menus, recipes, subtitles on the television etc. Take books with you on car journeys and sing nursery rhymes and songs; this helps to develop their understanding of how language works. 

Try to provide your child with a selection of books that they can easily access independently. Include reading material such as cloth books, board books, magazines (child-appropriate), cards, photo albums, and favourite storybooks that can be read again and again. I always include our past ‘Stories of the week’. Every week I choose a special book that we read daily. Repeating a story is fantastic for children’s vocabulary and reading comprehension

For babies not yet able to ‘read’ independently, prop up age-appropriate books (e.g., touch and feel books are great) when your baby is having tummy time, or sitting securely. 

A selection of my favourite books…

0-6 months

  • Baby’s very first black and white book: Babies, Author: Stella Baggott 
  • Everywhere Babies by Author: Susan Meyers 
  • Goodnight Moon, Author: Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Herd
  • That’s Not My Puppy Author:  Fiona Watt 
  • Clip-Clop, Author: Nicola Smee 
  • Who? Author: Robie H Harris  

6-12 months

  • Where’s Mr Lion? Author: Ingela Arrhenius
  • Where’s Spot? Author: Eric Hill
  • Kiss Goodnight, Author: Jane Cabrera
  • Little Truck, Author: Taro Gomi 
  • Peepo, Author: Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Listen to the Birds, Author: Marion Billet

12 months old +

  • Each Peach Pear Plum, Author: Allan Ahlberg
  • Roar: A big-mouthed book of noises, Author: Jonathan Litton 
  • Orange Pear Apple Bear, Author: Emily Gravett 
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, Author: Lynley Dodd
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Author: Mem Fox
  • It’s A Little Baby, Author: Julia Donaldson 

2 years old +

  • A Busy Day for Birds, Author: Lucy Cousins
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Author: Eric Carle
  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Author: Judith Kerr
  • What Is Poo? Author: Katie Daynes
  • The Lion Inside, Author: Rachel Bright  
  • The Gruffalo, Author: Julia Donaldson

3 years old +

  • Rosie’s Walk, Author: Pat Hutchins
  • Press Here, Author: Herve Tullet
  • Wacky Wednesday, Author: Dr. Seuss 
  • You Choose! Author: Pippa Goodhart 
  • Lost and Found, Author: Oliver Jeffers
  • Look & Learn Series, National Geographic

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all”, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Happy reading from my home to yours, Lucie x