When To Start Reading Aloud To a Child?

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Hi [Read Aloud Dad]!

Thank you for a great blog!

I am not sure if you’ve covered it already on your blog (couldn’t find it), but I would be really curious to read about getting started.

I will become a dad only in about a month and I am not sure when would be the best time to start reading and more importantly what to read to a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 months old baby.

If you have any thoughts on the subject or any concrete advice, I will appreciate reading about it on your blog or in a personal email reply.

Thanks again!


Hello Dmitry,

Congratulations! A lucky soon-to-be-father!

Thanks so much for such a GREAT question.

When I was waiting for the birth of our twins, I didn't even think about reading aloud to them.

Admittedly, they were born 6 weeks prematurely. It was touch and go for our little pumpkin girl for around a month. Thankfully, she pulled through and came home.

One forgets about reading at times like that.

But, I wasn't thinking about reading to my kids anyway.

Two years passed. We weren't talking much. They couldn't, I didn't know what to say.

Like the Tin Woodman, I focused on searching for something intangible. Where was the heart of our relationship? I wasn't able to engage them properly - and I thought that this would set itself in several years. Mistake!

Dmitry, I had to change. I had to embrace children's books first.

So - before my answer - let me celebrate you first as a FANTASTIC (soon-to-be) dad!

You become a Read Aloud Dad the very moment you start reading to your kid. 

And no, I will not leave my answer until the end of this letter.

Read aloud - from Day 1.

Let me surprise you. Reading aloud is as much about your kid as it is about you.

No, even that is not true.

In fact, it's more about you - don't forget it.

Kids always love listening to stories. It's our motivation as parents that falters.

Kids will show up for story time, parents often don't.

You will become an integral part of your daughter's identity. She will open her doors completely to your influence.

So while you walk into her heart ... make sure bring in all those children's books in with you.

Bring in trunks, chests, suitcases filled up to the brim with children's books.

I know you know this already, as you have written such a fabulous letter to me.

But as you are not a read aloud dad yet - my plea is please be a read aloud dad pioneer!

Become a dad that amazes the world. It is easier than it may seem.

Just read aloud - from Day 1.

Forget about "reading aloud" as a repetitive task.

Keep in mind that great actors often practice their trade for years before a breakthrough movie or play reveals them to our eyes.

Dmitry you will have to become Winnie The Pooh AND the Tin Woodman in the Wizard of Oz.

You, my friend, will have to be a convincing little Dorothy AND Shere Khan in the Jungle Book.

In children's books you will have to be anywhere. And your daughter will have to meet you there.

It is you - who will need the practice. And you will need to spend time seeking out those great books.

One thing that surprised me about my kids is that their personalities were formed as soon as they were born.

They have not changed. They are not "blank slabs" that need to be written on.

Yet, they were ready to be influenced from the very beginning.

What I am trying to say is - don't lose time.

Time is an ally.

If you haven't read it yet - I recommend that you read a copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook.

After you finish, start looking for exceptional books to add to your home and check where are the best libraries around your home.

Read aloud - from Day 1.

Your world will spin around when your darling girl is born.

Your existing daily obligations and timetables - will go through the window.

Nappies, crying, feeding, walks.

You will find out that reading aloud is the easiest victim. Don't be guilty of this crime.

Fit in 20 minutes at least. And make it interesting.

Dmitry you asked "What to read?"

I would make every read-aloud session a double pleasure. For your baby and for you as her parents.

First, read aloud board books with your baby - showing your beautiful daughter all the pictures and pointing to what is happening.

Don't worry if you feel funny in the beginning. Don't ever forget that your daughter's brain is soaking everything up.

She abhors solitude. She needs stimulation, attention and spending time with her parents.

Second, read aloud a great picture book or a chapter or two from a great children's chapter book.

Make it fun for your wife and you.

Enjoy yourself. Read great children's literature. There are thousands of great books. Laugh out loud!

Stop reading at cliff-hangers. Come back tomorrow. Keep yourself interested.

Don't stick to a couple of favorite books. Read classics, read new gems.

Get familiar with them. After you finish, make mental lists of good books and their difficulty level.

Your baby needs to hear your voice. Your nuances. Your words. Your pronunciation. Your fun.

Your baby will absorb it all.

Start a streak ... don't stop ... break a record.

Read a series. Read 10,000 pages.

Read 1000 days. Read to your charming daughter and her cousins.

Record your story times and upload on a private/public Youtube channel.

Start a blog. Volunteer to read in a local library. Tell everyone what you are doing.

Go crazy - invent your own challenge. Become a Read Aloud Ninja.

Surrender yourself.

Let children's books carry you away. When they do - you will succeed completely.

Then turn around and crouch down.

Put your hands on her shoulders and look carefully.

I promise you will see every page reflected in your daughter's beautiful eyes.

Read Aloud Dad

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  1. Let me second that: He wasn't crazy at all!

    What a great example from the Read Aloud Dad in your family! 

    I love hearing about examples such as yours - it fills me with so much respect for parents who offer their kids a literacy rich environment from such an early age.

    If you have the time ... please do ask him (and leave a comment) - about what motivated him to start reading so early. I'd love to know!

    Thanks so much for your contribution!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @8decb5277850fee4158c164e5f95b624 

  2. Truthfully, I thought my  husband was crazy when he started reading "Wind in the Willows" and Robert Louis Stevenson's poems to our oldest daughter before she was a year old...but he instilled a love of reading and writing in her that continues to today and she is now in college.  Our younger children were read to even earlier, as they heard it in the womb. I would encourage all parents (both dad and mom) to read to your children early and often it truly makes a difference.

  3. Hi Pragmatic Mom!

    Love your words:  Whatever the mom wants! 
    (Indeed, at least when the kids are in the womb - they can't say no!)

    My kids adore the Sandra Boynton (you spelled it correctly) books as well  - they loved the goofiness. And kids love goofy. More about her books for anyone who is interested at: http://www.sandraboynton.com
    Thanks for leaving a comment! Read Aloud DadRe: @2f04fd44b02f5004c4fadc411b33b1aa 

  4. Hi twinmummy! 

    Well, that is a story that needed to be told! 

    I love the fact that you read to them everything that you were reading - even Stephen King! 

    It's all about sharing and hearing the voice of a parent talking. 

    Lovely and congratulations on reading aloud to your twin girls at all times!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @8f4d7a1c3b3cf3c3044cc766985799ed 

  5. I read to my daughters from the time they were babies. They're both young adults now and both love to read!

    I'm a new GFC follower from the Finding New Friends Blog Hop. I hope you'll drop by my blog and follow back.www.LisaBlogs.com

  6. I was a single parent to my twin girls and was never sure what to 'say' to them, but I am a reader, so I read to them what I was reading at the time while nursing, snuggling or any other time really. They got their board books too when they were bigger, but as infants it was Stephen King, Terry Brooks and what ever else I was reading!

  7. I have heard of some moms who read to the baby in the womb. Hey, whatever the mom wants! But I found that my babies loved being read to and that board books and wooden books were durable. I think a short stint is perfect. 

    Some of my favorite books are the Sandra Boynton books. I think I misspelled her last name. 

  8. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  9. Hi Sal,

    First things first. As soon as I read your name ... my mind strayed to Robert McCloskey's "Blueberries for Sal" and "One Morning in Maine".

    Although we do not know each other, your name brought a smile to my face!

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful example from your family's reading life! One day, I hope to be calling my then adult twins about a great new book as well!

    And I must start reading some magazines aloud too - congratulations to your husband for reading aloud to your boys!

    Read Aloud Dad

    RE: @74ed55e040c8b148db4d93a0fd984fba 

  10. Wow Anne!

    Congratulations on starting so early! Read Aloud Dad tips his hat to you!

    Also, please allow me to thank you for your most important words on "when should parents stop reading aloud". That is SO IMPORTANT.

    Thanks so much for your words - as I share your enthusiasm for reading aloud even after kids learn to read on their own. 

    There is no need to stop family read-alouds and I think it is a great loss if children do not continue enjoying family read aloud sessions. 

    I love your words and I adore your practice. 

    You are a personal HERO of mine! 

    I will be coming back to re-read this comment of yours over the coming weeks, months and years. It is an inspiration.

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Anne Gallick 

  11. Bravo "Six Athome",

    Excellent, excellent point! 

    Indeed, parents can and should start reading even before Day 1. 

    Great advice for all future parents as they can make an important connection with their kids very early on - even before Day 1. Thanks so much for this!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Six Athome 

  12. Read to your baby NOW!!! Not just children's books but things you find beautiful and interesting. Your baby will hear you . She will know your voice,laugh and smell. 
    We had our children at home and they respond immediately to the things that are familiar. She will know you before she is born!
    What a lovely post!!

  13. We started reading aloud as soon as he stayed awake (at about 2 weeks).  We found that as an infant, he loved anything that rhymed - good time to practice Dr Seuss books!

    Some parents may also wonder when they should stop reading aloud.  Many parents stop when kids can read by themselves, 2nd or 3rd grade.  We continued to read aloud, and didn't stop until he went away to college!  Family reading was an evening staple at our house, with each of us taking a turn reading a novel (usually classics).

  14. Because we were both readers, we read aloud while I was still pregnant. And then we read to them both every day. They are now 32 and 35 and they live far away from me but if I am reading something wonderful, I call to share it. When they were very little, I would often find my husband reading Sports Illustrated out loud to them as he loved that magazine. Today, they both still read that magazine and I am convinced it has everthing to do with those early reading times together.

  15. Hi Dmitry,

    Thanks for your great letter and qustions! 

    By the way, Read Aloud Dad made a mistake in the original version of my response (I had a wrong "hunch" that Dmitry was expecting a baby boy). Well, I stand corrected with the help of a certain ... Mr. D! ;-)

    So, in order to celebrate the impending arrival of Dmitry's beautiful girl, the text has been changed accordingly. 

    Congratulations Dmitry - and please let us know one day after she arrives. If you can spare 30 seconds one day while she is sleeping... just leave a comment to let us know. 

    So that we can all drink a glass of wine to her health!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @e812cf26c15cf738254b1d15dbcaa84b 

  16. Thank you, Read Aloud Dad!

  17. Hi Meg Mims,

    Wow, what a great story and what a lucky girl your daughter is! There are some fabulous parents around, and I love to read and share your stories. Such an inspiration!

    Congratulations on being such a great role model for parents around the world. Thanks so much for leaving your inspiring words!

    A big hug 

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Meg Mims 

  18. I started reading to my baby when she was TWO WEEKS OLD - should have started the day I brought her home! It kept ME sane, with a nice cuddle in the rocking chair and relaxing time from all the drudgery. Every day, more and more books. By the time she was six months old, she was turning pages. She started talking early too - kids pick up language FASTER when you READ!!!

  19. My husband and I started reading to my son (now 15 months) in utero. I'm a huge nerd, and I would read to him from Neil DeGrasse Tyson's books on astrophysics. One day I'm gonna take him to the Hayden Planetarium so he can meet Mr. Tyson. Who knows, maybe I created an astronaut.

    Lindsey @ www.babiesbooksandsigns.com