Reading with your child


When should I start reading with my child? | How long should I read to my child for? | How often should I read to my child? | When should I stop reading to my child?

Mother reading to young childWhen should I start sharing books with my child?

Before they're born, babies learn to recognise their parents' voices. Read to your baby from the time they're born to give them the comfort of your voice and to increase their exposure to language.

You don't have to read baby books to young babies. It's enough to hear your voice and see your face.

As you read articles from the newspaper or chapters from your favourite book, make frequent eye contact with your baby and ask them questions - but don't expect answers!

As your baby develops, this increased access to language will form a significant role in helping them to lay down the foundations of their own developing communication.

How long should I read to my child for?

There is no 'right' answer. Instead, read to your child for as long as they're happy to listen.

Many younger children, and some more energetic older ones, prefer short books that can be read fairly quickly. Many older children, and some younger ones, prefer more extended reads.

This is meant to be something that you can enjoy and share together, so be guided by your child. 

How often should I read to my child?

When your child is very small, read to them for short periods two or three times a day – including bedtime. Sharing a book is a good opportunity for you both to take some time out in the exhausting energetic day of a pre-school child.

Having a bedtime story is often a favourite time for school-age children and it's an ideal quiet time for them to share any worries, too.

When should I stop reading to my child?

By the time children are seven or eight, many have lives packed with clubs, after-school lessons and social events, and fitting in a bedtime story is not realistic. But many children enjoy being read to until well into their teens, however busy their after-school schedule.

Even if reading becomes a special activity for the school holidays or weekends, it's good to continue to give your child the opportunity to read with you for as long as they want to share the experience.


Last updated: 8 months ago