Talk. Sing. Read. Write. Play.

Help your baby or toddler get ready to read!

You are your child's first and best teacher. You know more about your child than anyone else does. Learning to read starts before children go to school. If you talk, sing, read, write, and play together, your baby or toddler will be ready to read when she or he starts school.


All children, no matter how young, listen to people talk. It is how they learn new words and begin to understand the world around them.

  • Talk with your child as you go about your day: making food, riding the bus, getting ready for bed, any time.
  • Respond to what your child says. If your toddler says "truck," you can say, "We saw a truck yesterday too." You can respond to babbling or even silence.
  • Use new words. If he or she says "banana," you can say, "Do you want a banana? That's a very healthy food."
  • Talk in the language most comfortable for you. Babies' growing brains can easily learn more than one language.


Singing helps children hear the sounds that make up words.

  • Sing the A-B-C- song, nursery rhymes, funny songs, or any songs you like.
  • Clap to the rhythm.
  • Sing songs in any language.
  • Singing is a powerful way to connect you and your child to the world's cultures. 


Read with your child every day, and your child will learn to love books. Let him or her see you like reading too.

  • It's okay to read just a little bit of a book.
  • Try board books. They have hard pages your baby can throw, bite, and hit.
  • Your toddler can flip the pages and play with the book.
  • Talk about the story as you read.
  • You don't even have to read. You can just talk about the pictures.
  • Words are everywhere: on store fronts, magazines, and cereal bozes. Show these words to your child too.


Children learn early writing skills by drawing and scribbling.

  • Put flour or rice in a pan and then put your baby's hand in it. This is fun and starts developing the muscles needed to write.
  • Give your toddler crayons and paper to use.
  • Play with blocks or other toys with letters on them.
  • Write your child's name and show how the letters are formed.


When children play, they put ideas and feelings into words.

  • Give your child lots of time to play.
  • Play with him or her as much as you can.
  • Play with books.
  • When you read books about animals, make the animal sounds.
  • Let your child play with books. Try making a tower and knocking it down.
  • Keep books with toys, where toddlers can easily reach them.

Do these five things to help your baby or toddler get ready to read: talk, sing, read, write, and play.