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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

What can I expect when it comes to sharing books with my 4-month-old?

Q: What can I expect from my 4-month-old when it comes to reading books with her?

A: Literacy is a process that builds over time, with each new skill adding to the one before.  Keep in mind, though, that literacy is not just a skill, it is also a love—a love of books and the magic they offer. 

Below are some general guidelines about how children play with books from birth to age 3: 

  • 0-6 months:  May calm down while a familiar story or rhyme is read.
  • 6-8 months:  May begin to explore books by looking, touching and mouthing.  May seem fascinated by a particularly bright picture.
  • 9-11 months:  May have a favorite picture—for example of a smiling baby or a familiar-looking object.
  • 12-18 months:  May begin turning pages or holding a book as if she is “reading.”  May begin saying the word “book” and/or showing a preference for a specific book at bedtime.
  • 24-36 months:  May begin anticipating the story.  For example, while reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears, your toddler may say, “Just right!” as soon as he sees the picture of Goldilocks spooning up her porridge.  She may also request the same story over and over, and may pretend to read books on her own or tell you simple stories.


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