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Raise a Baby Bookworm

2. Make Time for Rhyme

Mother Goose has been around for centuries for a reason. "When a child hears Hickory Dickory Dock, they're hearing how words are segmented," says Wolf. "This helps them learn that words are made up of individual sounds composed of individual letters"-an important aspect of reading.

BONUS TIP: From the start, read books that have rhyming words and phrases. You can also make rhymes part of everyday activities. "All of this reinforces the rhythm of language," explains Wolf.

3. Let Them Handle Books Early On

This can begin at around 7 months when children begin holding objects. Even if all your baby does is chew on the pages, she is beginning to develop an understanding of what a book is and how it operates.

BONUS TIP: You can help cultivate baby's interest in books (as something other than a chew toy) by choosing ones that capture her attention, says Megan Riede, senior director of education programs for Knowledge Learning Corp., a national early childhood education provider. "Board books, pop-up books. Your child will want to see these again and again."

4. Sit Baby on Your Lap

This will make him feel nurtured, associating reading with pleasurable experiences, says Wolf. It also allows baby to see the book as it's read, and "soon, they'll understand that what you are saying is connected to the symbols on the page."

5. Respond and Expand

Once a child begins to speak, expand on what she is saying. "If they're saying 'da' and pointing at the dog, say, 'Yes, that's the dog,'" instructs Riede. If the child says "ball," follow up with, "That's a blue ball." "You'll be giving them additional language for their verbal bank," she adds.

6. Build a Toddler Library

"Keep books on a shelf where toddlers can reach and choose," says Ciborowski Fahey--even if all they're doing is playing with them. "It creates a positive attitude toward reading." If your toddler chooses the same book over and over, that's natural. "Repetition and frequency are highly important in learning how to read."