Besides offering the perfect opportunity to cuddle and wind down before bedtime, many experts believe that reading to your baby daily from birth will turn him or her into an early reader. Even if your child ends up reading on his own at an average age, getting him started young will help baby learn to value books and words and will start building his vocabulary and comprehension skills from from early on. At just a year old, I often find my son whom we read to before all naps and at bedtime, sitting in a pile of books flipping through pages and babbling.
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Literacy expert Mem Fox even suggests that reading at least three stories a day to your child could potentially put an end to illiteracy within a generation. I've found that the easiest way to accomplish this goal from infancy is simply to incorporate a book into your naptime and bedtime routines, which has the added bonus of being a constant signifier to your child that it is time to sleep.
For babies that are still in their first year of life, you generally want to stick to shorter stories that aren't too overstimulating, so they won't become overtired and cranky while you read, but you still want the text to be rhythmic and catchy and the pictures to be bold and graphic so as to hold their attention spans.
Here are five great books that fit the bill: