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Getting Ready to Read

It's never too early to start reading to your baby. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud daily to your child starting at 6 months, there's no reason why your newborn can't enjoy a good book, too. Research indicates that by age 2, children who were read to at an early age had better language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive scores. Here's how to start your baby's love affair with books:

Get cozy. Curl up with your tiny tot and hold the book so she can see the pictures. Babies love to hear the sound of their mom's voice, so not only read the story to her but comment on it ("That's so funny!"). Turn off distractions like the radio and TV, and devote your attention to her.

Feed her senses. Babies especially like stories with rhythmic patterns, such as songs and nursery rhymes. Board books with clear, high-contrast illustrations will be most appealing. They also love pictures of other babies. Try relating the pictures to her life ("Here's a rubber duckie. You have one in your tub!").

Schedule a daily storytime. Build books into your routine now. Set aside a few minutes every day to read aloud when she is rested and alert. Start by reading a page or two at a time and gradually add more as she becomes engaged. If she gets restless or fussy, put the book away and try again the next day.