Resources

Resources for Families

We’re here for you so that you can be there for them.

There is a lot to learn and understand when you have a baby, and it can be hard to know where to turn for information you can trust. Reach Out and Read is committed to helping families understand the benefits of reading with children from infancy—and providing the support they need to make reading a habit.

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Choosing the right book

We can help you understand what books are best suited to children of different ages. From board books that are made to withstand a baby’s chewing to rhyming books that help children memorize words and begin to recognize them, we’ll provide recommendations so you can sit back and enjoy reading together.

  • 6-12 months

    Books are the perfect way to entertain a baby in a carriage or crib. Small books are perfect for babies’ hands. The thick cardboard pages of board books are designed to hold up to being put in a child’s mouth, which is normal developmental behavior for babies.

    Infants are fascinated with books that include photos of babies. Name the parts of the babies’ faces as you speak to your child. For example, “See the baby’s nose. You have a nose, too.” You can touch the photo and then your baby’s nose as you say this to reinforce the word “nose.”

    We recommend Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater.

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  • 12-16 months

    Books that introduce sounds are perfect for your baby. For example, ask your baby, “What sound does the dog make?” This game reinforces language development and is fun to play. This is also a good age for tactile board books that feature objects and animals familiar to your baby. You can name an object and point to the image to help reinforce language development.

    We recommend Clifford’s Animal Sounds by Norman Bridwell and Hide and Peek by Odette Ross.

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  • 18-24 months

    Rhyming texts, with their repeated patterns, increase your child’s awareness of how language works. Rhymes help your children begin to decode the sounds that make up words. Reading together also helps increase your child’s vocabulary. As their words develop, children will start to fill in familiar parts of their favorite stories.

    We recommend You Are My Sunshine by Caroline Jayne Church and Polar Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle.

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  • 24-36 months

    Books can be used to help establish a pleasant bedtime routine that children will look forward to. Using books with repetitive text helps set the routine for a good night for both parents and children. Rhymes can also introduce numeracy skills, such as in Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Books are filled with so many learning opportunities!

    We recommend Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

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  • 3 years

    Preschoolers can easily learn useful concepts, such as opposites, in classic children’s books.

    We recommend Big Dog… Little Dog by P.D. Eastman.

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  • 4 years

    Sharing classic tales or nursery rhymes with your child is a wonderful way to expand cultural literacy. References from these stories are often made in conversation, with the expectation that everyone is familiar with them.

    We recommend Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth.

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  • 5 years

    Books are a wonderful way to help your child expand their world by introducing them to experiences and stories outside of what is familiar to them. Books can help feed their imaginations and encourage creative play.

    We recommend Maybe a Bear Ate It by Robie H. Harris and Mufaro by John Steptoe.

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Make the most out of reading time

Reading together should be the most magical, memorable, and enjoyable part of a child’s—and a caregiver’s—day. Snuggle close and look at the book together; act out the voices and the noises in the stories and ask older children to answer questions or retell the story. Reading together will create memories—and impart benefits—that last a lifetime.

  • General tips
    • Make reading part of every day, even for just a few minutes. Have fun.
    • Talk about the pictures. You do not have to read the book to tell a story.
    • Let your child turn the pages.
    • Show your child the cover page and explain what the story is about.
    • Run your finger along the words as you read them.
    • Silly sounds, especially animal sounds, are fun to make.
    • Choose books about events in your child’s life such as starting preschool, going to the dentist, getting a new pet, or moving to a new home.
    • Make the story come alive. Create voices for the story characters.
    • Ask questions about the story. What do you think will happen next? What is this?
    • Let your child ask questions about the story. Talk about familiar activities and objects.
    • Let your child retell the story.
    • Visit your local library often.
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  • Reading with your baby.
    • Hold your baby on your lap while you read.
    • Babies like board books, pictures of babies, rhymes and songs from the same book over and over, and when you point at pictures—this is how babies learn!
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  • Reading with your 1-year-old.
    • Let your toddler move around while you are reading.
    • Name the pictures—this is how toddlers learn new words.
    • Read labels and signs wherever you go.
    • Toddlers like the same book over and over; a book at bedtime; to choose and hold the book; books about food, trucks, animals, and children; and books with few words.
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  • Reading with your 2-year-old.
    • Read labels and signs wherever you go.
    • Keep different books around the house and let your child choose.
    • Two-year-olds like to help turn the pages, to fill in the words in a story they know, to point and name pictures; to hear the same book over and over, books that are silly; and animal books and animal noises.
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  • Reading with your preschool child.
    • Have your child sit close or on your lap while reading.
    • Ask questions about the story.
    • Let your child tell you stories.
    • Make weekly visits to the children’s room at the library so your child can choose more books.
    • Children like longer books that tell stories; books without words; alphabet and counting books; books about families, friends, and going to school; and a book at bedtime.
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Additional tools

We are always working to develop new tools to support our families. Here are some flyers with useful information—including seasonal book recommendations.