The Importance of Reading to Your Baby

Originally published January 2019, updated January 2024.

It's never too early to start reading to your child. It is highly recommended to begin reading aloud to children when they are newborns.

Reading out loud to your newborn baby may feel strange at first. You might wonder what the point is, when your baby is clearly not paying attention or understanding anything you’re saying. The great news is that reading out loud to your baby is laying the foundation for important literacy skills they will use when they are older (and time flies so quickly, this will happen before you even know it!). That silly feeling will pay off down the road.

Benefits of reading to your baby

Reading aloud teaches communication skills to your child. They begin to learn rhythm, tone and inflections of speaking. Consistent exposure to language helps build vocabulary and introduces important concepts such as shapes, colours, numbers, and letters. They will also learn the method of reading a book—you start at the beginning of the story and turn pages until you get to the end. You will find that they will soon begin to help you turn the pages, engaging in the reading process.

Sharing a book with your baby demonstrates that reading is fun. They will begin to associate books with feelings of comfort and pleasure. Your voice is a soothing sound to your baby and they will relish the special bonding time of reading together. Through this shared experience they will also develop important listening skills.

The benefits of reading to your child do not end when they are no longer a baby. Continue reading to your child, advancing the type of books you choose as your child’s development advances. These shared moments will forever be cherished by both you and your child.

Choosing books for baby

Board books are popular choices for babies. They are made from sturdy and thick paperboard—perfect for the curious hands (and mouths) of babies. Board books contain illustrations or photos which are usually either bright and bold or completely black and white. Stories can range from one word per page to a few lines of text per page. One popular feature of board books is lift-the-flaps, which babies will enjoy practicing over and over (helping to strengthen fine motor skills). And, since babies also learn through touch, there are touch-and-feel board books that use different textures throughout the story.

Board books in our collection

Here are a few links to board books in our catalogue to get you started:

Board Books (all)

Toys and Movable Board Books (including lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel books)





Further reading

A lot of research about the benefits of reading to your baby has been done over the years. Below are a few links for further reading:

Read, speak, sing to your baby: How parents can promote literacy from birth

For baby’s brain to benefit, read the right books at the right time

Kids & Family Reading Report Canadian Edition  

Why it’s important to read aloud with your kids, and how to make it count

Reading with your child

Why it’s never too early to start reading with your kids (blog)

The magic of reading aloud to babies