How Young Is Too Young To Read To Your Kids?

Friday, June 27, 2014

children's books library reading Almost everyone has a favorite children's book (Copyright: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock)

If you're the parent of a newborn, what do you think about reading to your baby? Does it make a difference, or is it one more parenting recommendation to follow at a stressful time? Jamie Zibulsky, author of Book Smart: How to Develop and Support Successful, Motivated Readers makes the case for reading to your infants and takes your calls.


Ms. Jamie Zibulsky

Comments [24]

I'm another of those parents who read to their kids since infancy. Since my wife was able to stay home with them, I would bath and read to them when I got home from work since they were born...until they were old enough to bathe themselves. However, at 10 and 7, they both still like when I read to them despite the fact that not only are they both voracious readers, but they read much faster than I can read to them.

I can also attest to that reading time providing the environment and being the catalyst for great conversations over the years.

Now they're at an age where we can all read the same books together, taking turns with each chapter. However, I also maintain books that I'm reading with each of them separately, and they always have books they're reading by themselves.

I wrote about Why I Love Reading To My Kids:

Jun. 30 2014 05:14 PM
Jim from Seal Beach, CA

I didn't hear anything in this interview about "Reading to children
in lieu of improved child care laws and maternity leave!
I did hear that even a few minutes at a time might be fun and beneficial.
I also didn't hear a so called expert instructing parents on how they must raise their kids, but rather
someone who had done the research, offering ideas that might benefit our children.

Jun. 28 2014 04:27 PM
Shelly ostro from New York city

This is just another example of the disconnect
Between the "haves" and "have-nots".
Of course reading to your child and indeed
Spending more quality time is great.
However your guest should be aware that
Many, if not most, parents today have to work
Many hrs. To survive and are just too
Exhausted and overwhelmed to do this,
Better if your guest focused on adequate
Child-care and maternity leave

Jun. 27 2014 01:35 PM


love of reading as well as cognitive skills like joint attention, prolonged focus, advanced vocabulary and early concepts of print. When in doubt, read!

Jun. 27 2014 12:07 PM

Everyone agrees that spending time with your baby is extremely important, but there isn't that much to do with infants. Reading is a great way to break up the monotony of narrating 500 diaper changes a day. It provides varied language, bonding/snuggling time and is so easy you can do it no matter how exhausted you feel! I'm convinced that early reading helped my 16-month-old develop a l

Jun. 27 2014 12:01 PM
Bonnie Boyle from Queens, NY

I'm sorry I was unable to get through during the show to share my experience with reading to babies. We started reading to our two girls at the age of 6 months They seemed entertained and engaged. We felt it would develop a love of reading and expand their vocabulary. In deed, they both grew up to be good readers both in and out of school. Not only did early reading arm them with vocabulary, but I believe it armed them with the necessary skills to become good writers, of which they both are. As a teacher, one of the most difficult subjects to teach to young children is writing. However, I have noticed that those students who are good readers, are generally good writers or pick up the skills quickly.
My daughters are now adult women who still read avidly and enjoy discussing what they have read with others. In fact, the older one has become a sports anchor on which requires lots of daily reading just to stay on top of the game. More importantly though, is that the two of them love to read which is, afterall, why we started reading to them in the first place.

Jun. 27 2014 11:53 AM
Meg from Bergen County

I have Dr. Zibulsky's book, and one of the things I love about it is that it's NOT one of those "expert" books that pressures parents to add a ton of new things to the to-do list. Rather, it provides really accessible and fun ways to incorporate research-based reading concepts into the time you're already spending with your children (including the time you're in the car or at the grocery store). It's totally changed the way my husband and I read to our two boys (ages 5 and 2) at bedtime--and because we have new ways to ask questions about the story and get them really engaged in reading time, they're enjoying it even more. Now reading feels less like something we *have* to do each night, like making them eat vegetables or brush their teeth. It's makes for a pleasant way to wind down from a busy day.

Jun. 27 2014 11:46 AM
Aly from upper west side Manhattan

Friends made fun of me that I read to my daughter Sachi from age zero. I read what I was reading, Anna Karenina, Sons and Lovers, P.D. James mysteries. I switched to more appropriate picture books after a few months. To my amazement she was reading to herself at age 3. She read and still reads a book a week for pleasure all through college. It's good to hear that my radical idea from 28 years ago has turned out to be sound.

I must say I also sang and talked to her all the time. I did it because I thought she might be bored. This backfired later when she needed constant stimulation and I was an exhausted single parent. She's a successful, well-adjusted adult, engaged to be married, and still my best friend.

Jun. 27 2014 11:44 AM
Sara Gilbert from Brooklyn

As a therapist working in a hospital, and also as a parent of a 15 month old, I have found that developing a culture of reading can offer a means of nurturing children when they need a more passive source of stimulation. When a child is sick and or fatigued, they often still posses the desire to engage in the world. Reading not only activates their mind and places them where they want to be, but it can also provide parents with a way of caring for their child, helping to soothe discomfort and re-establish a sense of security.

Jun. 27 2014 11:37 AM
Shawn from NJ

Tracy from Ridgewood: As someone from NJ, thank you for confirming the stereotype of the Ridgewood Mom. The fact that you would bring up how crazy it is to discuss more time for the kids, and how your needs are being overlooked, is just laughable. Best of luck to you!

Jun. 27 2014 11:30 AM
Megan Finn from brooklyn

Are there benefits to falling asleep while reading to your child. My theory: nodding off encouraged my daughter to read early so she could find out what happens. Zonking out or not, the shared reading has been precious to me and I hope to continue it as long as possible. As she gets older we do a combo of she reads, i read, and separate reading and then catching up. Also audio books on road trips are fun. For the past few years we've been doing the Harry Potter books with a movie night when we finish. Reading to my child has made me a better reader. For all the intellectual benefits, the time to relax and enjoy the company of my child has been the most important.

Jun. 27 2014 11:29 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

My mother from the old country, never read book in her life, but was the most astute judge of life and people I've ever known. By contrast, I read thousands of books and it's done me no good whatsoever. "Book smarts" and real-life smarts are completely different things. Clearly it's good and necessary in this day and age to be literate, but not necessarily the key to success. Reading is a good hobby though whether its of any practical use or not.

Jun. 27 2014 11:27 AM
janny1006 from jer

I started reading to my daughter very early on (6 mos or so) with simple board picture books that I pointed to and talked about. Our nightly 'bookie' time was a tradition until she reached the 5th grade (when I went back to school at night). At almost 18, she is a voracious reader, who recently said to me.."I need to start reading again!!"...implication being that books she had to read in school were fine, but she wanted to get back to simply reading for pleasure.

Jun. 27 2014 11:24 AM
Tracey from ridgewood, NJ

This all sounds good for the child, and I don't doubt that. However I get tired of parenting "experts" who advise us to do things to increase our interaction with our children but ignore the needs of the parent. Parents need down time. Overextended parenting makes for overextended parents who may become less lovable.

Jun. 27 2014 11:23 AM
Brent from Manhattan

Does this mean that Mayor De Blasio is now going to insist on public-funded infant reading if parents don't have the time?

Jun. 27 2014 11:23 AM
Naomi Black from nyc

I have a 20 year old boy and a 14 year old girl. I"ve been reading to them since they were born. Both are readers. One prefers fantasy, the other more reality based books. Both had very different tastes in what they liked. I haven't read to them in years, but my son has started listening to audio books. I think that it has helped them develop a good world view and become more compassionate dealing with other people.

Jun. 27 2014 11:22 AM
Renee from Brooklyn, NY

I'm a mother of a 2.5 year old and 1 month old and my husband and I definitely started reading to our older child at birth and while I was at home on maternity leave I talked to him a lot. I think it's wonderful and has made a big difference in my older sons language. Now, with my new baby I read NY times (and other things i enjoy reading). It's a great practice.

Jun. 27 2014 11:22 AM
Amelia from Prospect Heights

Kids love being read to! I have a photo of myself on an infant on my grandfather's lap as he reads the New York Times aloud.

Jun. 27 2014 11:21 AM

Should we read our new born James Joyce's Ulysses or Melville's Moby Dick. Seriously, would it raise their vocabulary or intelligence?

Jun. 27 2014 11:21 AM
Alan from New York

Brian, how does your guest feel about the advisability of playing the opening chorus of Bach's St. John Passion for a fetus? For an infant?

Jun. 27 2014 11:21 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Shawn, thanks for raising that causation/correlation distinction.

Jun. 27 2014 11:19 AM
Mike from Madison NJ

Does this imply that _hearing_ language is important,
so just playing books on tape would help,
or is it important to have the child _see_ the vocalization process?

I recall a "Doc Martin" episode where he reads medical journal articles to his son,
and the child smiling ...

Jun. 27 2014 11:18 AM
tee from NJ

I read to my son from the minute we brought him home from the hospital. He absolutely got something out of it; I watched his reactions as I turned the pages. He's now 21 and just graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins with a double major. Enough said? (And yes, people thought I was a little crazy at the time, but for me it was a great way to pass the time and bond and provide diversion for my child--and so much more! SO much more!)

Jun. 27 2014 11:17 AM
Shawn from NJ

I wonder how much of the benefit is from actually reading, and how much of the overall benefit is due to the fact that any parent who is taking time to read at a young age is likely also very committed to other aspects of the kids development. A parent that involved has to confer other benefits like maybe more healthy lunches, more time in general for the betterment of the kid.

Jun. 27 2014 11:15 AM

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