Reading to Babies: The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship


Imagine a sweet 6-month-old baby girl tucked in the arms of her father as he reads her a bedtime story. She snuggles in close to his chest as he calmly sways her back and forth in a rocking chair. As he exaggerates his voice with the story, the baby reaches her hands for the book and pats the pages with excitement. The father continues with the story as the little one grasps for his face to find reassurance in his presence…the one who soothes her every night before she is put to bed. This beautiful moment occurs every night between this sweet father and daughter and it always begins with a book.

Reading to infants is encouraged in American society. Research has clearly confirmed the benefits children receive from being read to in the early stages of life. According to Murray and Egan (2014), we have known for a long time that there is a connection between language and literacy. Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (2014), the Canadian Pediatric Society (2018), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017) recommend that reading to children should begin during infancy. Despite the abundance of literature that encourages reading in early infancy, research suggests that, on average, parents begin reading with their babies at around 7 to 9 months (Murray & Egan, 2014). We may look at this research and think losing 7 to 9 months of reading time is not that significant considering parents have an infant’s entire childhood to read and tell stories. Though this research may seem insignificant when looking at the whole picture, researchers are finding that WHEN parents begin reading to their infants matters.

Researchers like Thacker (2014) explain that when caregivers can establish a reading routine before children turn 2 years of age, children can be exposed to a rich vocabulary that betters their language development and sets the stage for future exposure to reading materials. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2017) has released new research that suggests reading with young infants is linked to enhancing their vocabulary and reading skills four years later. Murray and Egan (2014) report that children undergo a rapid pace of development between 9 to 12 months of age. This explains why the amount of time a parent reads with their child at 9 months can predict a child’s vocabulary at 34 months and even at 58 months of age.

Research is consistent in demonstrating that reading during infancy can have a multitude of benefits for children. It supports their literacy, language, vocabulary, and writing development (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017; Holland, 2007; Murray & Egan, 2014; Thacker, 2014). Most home visitors are aware of these developmental benefits, but did you know that reading during infancy is linked to more than just these developmental benefits? Research is now finding that reading during infancy does much more than provide a child with rich reading and vocabulary skills.

As we go about our day in home visiting, we know that each of us has one characteristic in common…we are all trying to promote parent-child engagement. Research is providing great news for home visitors! When reading begins early, children experience a stronger parent-child relationship (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015). According to Thacker (2014), “As soon as an infant can sit on a caregiver’s lap, the child can learn to associate the act of reading with a sense of being loved” (p.16). How amazing is it that a tiny infant can learn that reading time means Mommy and Daddy love me? Reading to infants is so much more than teaching babies words; reading is an opportunity for a parent and child to spend time together enhancing their growing bond.

Home visitors understand that the idea of reading to an infant is challenging to some families for various reasons. Some caregivers may struggle with literacy, while others may not feel confident in their reading abilities. We must remember to be sensitive to the parents we serve, but we also have to spread the word that parents do not have to be great readers in order to have reading time with their babies. Research reminds us that until children attend school, they spend more time looking at pictures in books as opposed to the words (Thacker, 2014). The Canadian Pediatric Society (2018) shares that babies love to look at pictures in books and that simply talking to an infant about the pictures in a book is beneficial. As a GGK home visitor you also have access to amazing activities like the Talking Box Book where parents can simply tell a story using a decorated box. This means that parents can tell a story to their baby without having to read words. Also know that any Cues and Communication module can support you in encouraging parents to focus on vocabulary and language skills but be aware that there are activities and subsections throughout the curriculum that encourage reading parent-child reading time. Please see the provided list below:


GGK Birth to 12 Months

4-6 Months: Play and Stimulation

Activity: Picture Storybook

7-9 Months: Cues and Communication

Activity: Talking Box Book

7-9 Months: Physical and Brain Development

Subsection: Read Now…Read Forever

Activity: Read to Me

10-12 Months: Physical and Brain Development

Activity: Bedtime Stories

GGK 13-24 Months

13 to 15 Months: Play and Stimulation

Subsection: Reading: Making Words Live

Activity: A Book About Me

19-21 Months: Play and Stimulation

Activity: Going to The Library

22-24 Months: Cues and Communication

Subsection: Reading: Making Words Live

Activity: The Word for The Day

25-30 Months: Cues and Communication

Activity: Color Me A Story

31-36 Months: Cues and Communication

Subsection: Making the Most Of Storytime

Activity: Where, What, And Why Storytelling

As you go about your home visits this month, remember that a book is more than words; it is the start of a beautiful lifelong parent-child bond.



American Academy of Pediatrics. 2014. Healthy children radio: Reading aloud to infants.

Retrieved from:

American Academy of Pediatrics. 2015. Parent child reading and story time promote

brain development prior to kindergarten. Retrieved from:

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). Reading with children starting in infancy gives

lasting literacy boost. AAP News & Journal Gateway. Retrieved from:

Canadian Pediatric Society. (2018). Read, speak, sing to your baby: How parents can

promote literacy from birth. Retrieved from:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017).  Developmental milestones.

Retrieved from:

Holland, J. (2008). Reading aloud with infants: The controversy, the myth, and a case

study. Early Childhood Education Journal35(4), 383-385. doi:10.1007/s10643-007-0203-6

Murray, A., & Egan, S. M. (2014). Does reading to infants benefit their cognitive

development at 9-months-old? An investigation using a large birth cohort

survey. Child Language Teaching & Therapy30(3), 303-315.


Thacker, D. C. (2014). Playing with the text: The importance of sharing books with

babies. International Journal Of Birth & Parent Education2(1), 15-17.

Retrieved from: Does reading to infan10.1177/0265659013513813

Recent Posts

Love Leads to Learning

Love Leads to Learning

Carving out time to create our monthly blog is always refreshing for me. It’s an opportunity to step back from writing curriculum and...

read more
History is Not Your Destiny

History is Not Your Destiny

Some people are born with a love for reading. You know if you’re one of them! My sister is. Even as a child, she often had her head...

read more
Embrace the Joy!

Embrace the Joy!

As I sit down to write this blog, my week is coming to a close. It’s Friday. I’ve spent my workdays in a virtual conference learning,...

read more
Fresh Air

Fresh Air

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, spring is officially here, and that’s a reason to celebrate! I don’t know about...

read more


Hope can be defined as wanting something to happen or be true or to expect something with confidence, per Merriam-Webster....

read more
The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Great Kids has been up to some exciting things for the past couple of years, and we are finally ready to share with the rest of the world! We have completed our most comprehensive update of our GGK Prenatal to 36 months (GGK P36) curriculum series – we call it the “GGK P36 NEXT GENERATION” series. It has been a labor of love for us. We intentionally reviewed all components of the curriculum, listened to feedback from the field, and incorporated the best practices in early childhood for our revisions, and the result is spectacular.

read more

Growing Great Kids® Next Generation P-36

Our latest effort to support the work of Home Visiting, our Growing Great Kids® Next Generation (GGK®) Curriculum materials.

GGK® for Preschoolers

A Curriculum & Certification Program for Home Visitors aimed at fostering the growth of nurturing, developmentally enriched parenting skills, building protective factors for children 3 to 5 years old.

Open Enrollment

View upcoming virtual seminar open enrollment dates and subject areas.

How to Get Started

Start by scheduling a free 30-minute webinar to learn more about how your organization might benefit from Great Kids® affordable curriculum with no recurring costs.

Schedule Your Free Webinar Today

Frequently Asked Questions from Our New Customers

Please review common questions for those that are new to Great Kids®. Book your free, personalized webinar to learn more.

For Our Existing Customers

Thank you for being part of the Great Kids® family of agencies and programs. Support from Great Kids is just a click or phone call away.

Pre and Post Certification Products

All the tools you need to start using Great Kids® Curriculum right away and to continue to enhance the effectiveness of your program.

Ordering Materials

Need replacement manuals? Want to add to your library of Great Kids® resources? Find everything you need here.

  • New Products
  • Recovery-Impact-Support-Empower
  • Replacement Materials
  • Spanish Materials Available

Open Enrollment

View upcoming virtual seminar open enrollment dates and subject areas.

Existing Customer FAQs

Are you a past or current customer of Great Kids®? Find common questions and answers here.

Pricing Information for Existing Customers

Find pricing for companion products and other programs.

About Great Kids®

In partnership with home visitors, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of children feel safe and secure, loved and valued, curious and capable.

Contact Great Kids

100 North 72nd Avenue

Wausau, WI 54401


Phone: 1-800-906-5581


Great Kids® has incorporated decades of theoretical and empirical foundations regarding the kinds of interventions that have been shown to make a difference for children into the Growing Great Kids® Prenatal to 5 Years and Growing Great Families® curricula.

Alignment With Program Models

Our curricula are flexible enough to be used within a multitude of program models.

Protective Factors

The research-based principles of the Protective Factors Framework were foundational in the development of the Growing Great Kids® Curriculum.

Great Kids® Blog

Find informative articles about growing creativity in young children, welcoming a new sibling, playing outside, as well as general Great Kids® updates.

GK Video Podcast

A video podcast series dedicated to overcoming bias in others, and within our selves.

Parent’s Place Newsletter

Limited edition, weekly installment Newsletter published by Great Kids® from March through December 2020 with printable resources for home visitors and the families they serve.

Open Enrollment

Great Kids is proud to offer a variety of virtual seminar opportunities! Visit our Open Enrollment page for the latest dates and seminar offerings. 


We continuously add seminar dates to our list so please check back often. For more information about how to enroll, contact us at


You can also enter your email address in the form below to subscribe to receive regular updates from GK, including information on open enrollment. 


We look forward to partnering with you!

We look forward to connecting with you!