Melanie Kissell

Take Out the Mystery and Put in the Fun: Reading with Babies Birth through Two Years

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2009 at 9:57 pm


Let’s switch up the conversation a bit today from “lactation” to “literacy” – two important life skills that begin with “L”.

Post By Cathy Puett Miller, Independent Children’s Literacy Consultant

You are starting a whole new world with the arrival of your new baby. You have lots to think about and probably are full of questions and uncertainties. One of most important gifts you can give you new baby doesn’t cost a dime. It’s the gift of literacy and the gift of you.

Start reading with your baby right away when you come home from the hospital. It will grow the bond between you as your child listens to your soothing, familiar voices (get Dad in on the act too). Relax, trust your instincts, and follow these simple guidelines. You’ll be an expert in no time!


While you are still getting ready, add books to your baby shower “wish list”. If you have favorites of yours from your childhood you can list specific titles. Otherwise choose from the wide variety of picture books (simple, colorful stories with little text to artistic, beautifully illustrated stories). Here are a few to get you going:

The Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier (there are several books with this very same title)

When Daddy Comes Home At Night by Eileen Spinelli (there’s one for Mamas too)

I Already Know I Love You by Billy Crystal

Welcome them all and take time in those few quiet months before the baby arrives to read them yourself. If you like them, your child is likely to also. When you start to read with your baby, it won’t matter so much what you read as that they are hearing the sound of your voice. A few dads even read The Wall Street Journal or Sports Illustrated to their “chip off the old block”. Try these tips as you read with babies six weeks to three months old:

  • Don’t try to read too long. As few as five minutes as you put your baby down for a nap or when you are rocking your baby in your arms.
  • Keep your voice calm; no need to be theatrical at this age. Choose books like Mem Fox’s Time for Bed, a lullaby of a story or excerpts from Hush, Little Ones by John Butler.
  • Once you’re in a routine, try reading to your baby when he or she is fussy. If you’ve already set the pattern to connect reading with a calm, warm, close time, sharing a story before your baby becomes too overstimulated can help him or her to quiet down.



Through varied avenues such as her award-winning Reading is for Everyone® tutorial model, her contributions to as their national “Reading Coach” monthly columnist and her training workshops for children, educators and parents,
Cathy Puett Miller, The Literacy Ambassador™, spends her time spreading the news that reading can be fun, powerful and practical.

Mrs. Miller received the coveted 2003 National Silver Award for investigative educational reporting from Parenting Publications of America and regularly writes for both on-line and print publications including peer-reviewed educational journals such as the Georgia Journal of Reading. She continues to contribute to the world of literacy by designing research-based initiatives, creating reading packages such as’s first reading page for parents, and serving on the Alabama School Readiness Advisory Council and the board of directors of The Reading Tub. She proudly serves as a member of the International Reading Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Mrs. Miller’s most recent projects involve presenting at regional and state reading and preschool conferences, authoring a book for parents of preschool children on emergent literacy, creating and managing the pilot of a local United Way’s Fun Learning Moments™ parent involvement/school readiness initiative, and conducting a national study on at-home reading in collaboration with university early education departments in AL and TX.

Melanie Kissell



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