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Making the Most of Storytime

You snuggle up with your baby to read Goodnight Moon, but before you can get to page two, he's pried the book out of your hands and is drooling all over it. Is he really getting anything out of this? Absolutely, says Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook. Just by exposing your baby to books in a positive way  -- no matter how many words you actually read  -- you're planting seeds for an enthusiastic future reader. To hold his interest:

Time it right. Set regular reading times, but be flexible. If he's fussy before bed, try after breakfast when he's alert.

Keep it short. Start with 30-second storytimes, gradually working up to three minutes.

Let him explore. He's figuring out what a book is and how it works by turning pages  -- even chewing on its cover  -- so provide board books that can stand up to rough love.

Choose wisely. Books with rhymes, repetition, predictable words, and bright, single image pictures are most appealing.

Repeat yourself. Trying a new book every day can confuse babies, so keep a core library of no more than eight books that you read over and over. He'll learn to recognize them, pick favorites, and eventually bring them to you to read.

Get creative. Sing the book's words or act them out. If your baby grabs the book away from you, make up your own simple story, using a character from the book.

Forget the words. Focus on the pictures instead: Name the animals, say the balloons' colors, or count the apples.