Reading to a child from birth increases both literary and language skills, according to a recent statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Here’s how to get story time started now.

“Reading allows parents and children to spend quality time together while building a child’s social development and literacy,” says Chris Smyser, MD, a Washington University pediatric neurologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Parents should start reading to their children as early as possible. Even if they haven’t been reading with their children, it’s never too late to get started.”

Growing Little Bookworms
Carve out time during your day to share books with your little one, and don’t stress over what to read: Anything, whether a picture book or a picture-filled magazine, can show your child that reading is fun.

“Even if children don’t understand the words parents are saying, the interaction, the words and the time spent together are important,” says Caryn Garriga, MD, MPH, community development pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and with Caryn Garriga Pediatrics LLC. “Reading right before bed is a great way to help your child wind down from an eventful day.”

Make the Most of Story Time
Instilling a love of reading starts with you. Here’s how to ensure a lifetime of learning for your little one.

  • Any reading time is better than none. Don’t have 10 or 15 minutes to read to your child? That’s OK. Five minutes here and there can have a cumulative effect on your child’s development. So sneak in a quick read at snack time!
  • Consider story time as a conversation. “When children are younger, they usually like looking at the pictures while words are spoken to them,” says Dr. Garriga. “The words you read out loud don’t have to be the words written in the book. The book is a tool to have a conversation and respond to your child’s gestures.”
  • Find the right reading lists. Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy efforts, provides age-specific book suggestions for children of all ages. Visit for the latest recommendations.
  • Take a trip to the library. As your child grows, head to your local library for group story hour with other kids and parents, and let your child pick books on his own. Visit local bookstores to see if they offer reading programs for older children.


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