Almost any reading is beneficial for your child, though certain kinds of books will be attuned to your child’s level of cognitive development and will therefore grab his or her attention for longer periods of time.

The early stages of reading development include:

Stage 1: Your child looks at the pictures and graphics in a book and makes comments about them but does not need a story line. In this first stage, your child doesn’t need an integrated story that knits together his or her ideas. At this stage, your child may be fascinated with a single set of objects pictured in a book.

Stage 2: During the second stage, your child will tend to look at a book’s pictures and create his or her own story. Your child’s inflection may sound as if he or she is telling the real story, but you will need to be looking at the book with your child to follow the story being told.

Stage 3: In the third stage of reading, your child will read the story in a book by looking at the pictures. Your child’s choice of words, pitch, tone, and cadence will sound like reading, and as a listener you will not need to see the pictures to follow the story line.

Stage 4: Your child will tell a story looking at the print rather than the pictures as she tries to read during the fourth stage. Your child is still not “reading,” but he or she will point to words in print while retelling a story she already knows.

As you help your little one learn to love reading, you can also enrich the experience by having fun while reading. Your child will attend to reading with you longer if you are creating a playful experience. Give the characters different voices and change the pitch, accent, and pace of your reading. You can also make reading like a play by choosing a familiar story and using stuffed animals as characters. You might also build a reading nest out of sheets, pillow cushions, or any other “prop” in the house.

The more you can make reading a pleasurable part of each day, the easier will be the task of learning to read. Enjoy!