How Do I Raise a Bookworm?


Every day we answer questions from parents, educators, and caregivers about how best to raise a Bookworm Baby, or how to best implement The Bookworm Babies Method. In fact, we wrote the introduction to Bookworm Babies with many of the questions we received over the years in mind.

We compiled many of those questions here. Some are representative of several similar questions blended together, and others are very specific. Our answers are the ones found to be most informative and helpful to parents and caregivers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. 

If you are looking for further information, or do not see an answer to a question or to an issue you are having, please contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I have to have a conversation with my child every time I read? 

A: Conversations are important, at the right time, but simply reading with your little one is extremely valuable too. “Whenever you introduce a new book, try to read through the whole story without any conversation. Reading through a story preserves the integrity and nature of a book. In addition, exposing your child to the beginning, middle, and end of a book is important for the reading and learning experience.” - Excerpt from Bookworm Babies 

You might also wish to visit the Consider This section of this website for quotes and research on the value of reading with your little one.

Q: Will Bookworm Babies teach my child to read? 

A: “It is important to note that most educators do not engage in early book-sharing to teach their little ones to read. Instead, educators read aloud every day to enhance the fun, excitement, wonder, and knowledge within each and every page of a story, and to prepare their children for future educational success.” - Excerpt from Bookworm Babies

Q: I bought Bookworm Babies. There are so many conversation starters! Do I try to talk about each one when I read a story?  

A: “The conversations are not designed to be used all at once during one reading of the book. You may decide to choose one or two for each reading and select different, or favorite, options for the next reading. Most importantly, the conversations are meant to be just that: conversations. You are not quizzing your child on what you have read. By sharing your ideas, modeling your thinking, wondering aloud and talking about stories, you are providing your child with an open invitation to join you in rich, organic conversation. As you wonder aloud to show your thinking, make it clear that although you have one idea, your little one may have another thought. In this way you encourage your child to have independent ideas and questions to add to the dialogue.” - Excerpt from Bookworm Babies

Q: What time of day should I read with my very young daughter?

A: The most important thing to remember is that your child - although very young - is already developing a personality. You know best these budding personality traits your little one is exhibiting, and you will need to incorporate those traits into your reading experiences. Our advice is to read with your little one several times a day, or as many times as you can fit in. When your child is calm, and amenable to reading, pick up a book. Keeping a basket or pile of books in different areas of your home ensures that you will always have a story within reach. Be careful of falling into the trap of only reading at night, or before sleep-time.

Q: My daughter is 9 months old. She just seems to like the same books over and over. I'll try to introduce a new book and she'll squirm and not focus until I bring back her favorite stories. Is it okay to stick with the same books and illustrations over and over again for now?

A: At this age, it is important to follow your child’s lead when it comes to reading You are trying to set up a lifelong love of reading; therefore, you should read your daughter the books she seems to enjoy most. Repetition is also very important and comforting for young children. Use The Bookworm Babies Method of conversation to talk about different aspects of the book. Eventually however, her interests will change, but for now, the characters in those books are making great companions. You might also want to pick up as many different books by the same author(s) as you can find at your local library. This way she can have something new, yet beloved and familiar, at the same time.

Q: How do I read to an active baby/child who will not sit for a book?

A: Here is a an excerpt from Bookworm Babies: The most important thing “....for busy children is to listen to a story while they play. To read like a teacher while your child is playing, hold the book so that your child can see the pictures and begin reading. Your child may not watch you the entire time, but it is likely that she will, at some points in your story, stop and look, even if only for a moment. More importantly, at all times while you read, your child will be listening. You can simply read the story or follow the conversations: pointing out parts of the story, having a running dialogue, or singing songs. Even if you feel ignored in the process, your child will be listening and learning, and books will continue to be an important part of your daily routine. Conversely, if your child asks a question (or ten), answer each one. If his attention shifts and he wants to turn the pages of the book for you, let him. Most importantly, keep reading time with your child enjoyable. If your child is eager for a lively activity, reading might create frustration, and your child could end up resenting book-sharing. Over time, this resentment might make it harder for you to share books. If reading time lasts only a few minutes and you do not finish a whole story, don’t worry. It is better to enjoy a few minutes of reading together than to finish a book.”

Q: I would like some help on how to engage my little one in reading. He is almost 2, but he does not show a lot of interest in books or in the stories I read. He also takes away my books whilst I am reading, plays around with them doesn’t really listen.

A: It is paramount that you keep any reading time enjoyable. If he enjoys playing with books, let him play with books. You can point out specific details as he turns the pages or narrate the story as you go. It is also ok to read with your little one while he is playing. He may not be "actively" listening, but he is listening and eventually, he will want to hear the end of the story. You might also read to him while he is a captive audience: in the carseat, in the stroller, in the highchair, in the bath, while falling asleep, etc. Be sure you have lots of different kinds of books to read with your little one. Some kids like to hear the same book(s) over and over again and some like variety. Lastly, you might want to reference to our answer to the question: How do I read to an active baby/child who will not sit for a book?

Q: My brother and sister-in-law had their first baby a few months ago, but they do not read to him. How do I help my nephew without telling them how to parent?  

A: Our favorite way to facilitate early reading is to give a basket of books as a new baby gift. Include a copy of Bookworm Babies in the basket. You may also want to include any like-new books your children do not read anymore. Keeping books in a child’s room, or the area where you spend the most time, often sparks the habit of daily reading. You can also model reading by sharing a few with your nephew when you visit. If your brother and sister-in-law are on social media, you can direct them to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages information and daily motivators.

Q: I've always read with my child and she's always loved books. She will be 2 in a month and for the last month she is refusing to let me read to her, even when I bring out her favorite book. She will happily pick out her books and sit on the floor and 'try' to read them herself. She just does not want me to hear with her. Do you think this is just a phase? 

A: Absolutely. Let her "read" her books for a while. Eventually, she will ask you to read them with her. Also, you may want to bring out some new books and strategically place them on the breakfast table, on her bed, etc. She will probably look at them and eventually ask someone to read them with her. The idea is to always make book sharing a fun experience, so it is important that she be a willing participant.

Q: My 3 year-old has some developmental delays. What should I do differently when I read with her?

A: While we can’t speak to your child’s specific delays, generally, your daughter will benefit from the same reading strategies we suggest for all children. Reading aloud, talking about the story and giving her hands-on experience with books will all facilitate her growth from where she is starting. Remember that she will make her own gains. You can share your enthusiasm for reading and make book sharing something you enjoy together, regardless of her current abilities.

Q: What is the difference between reading about a character and watching that character on TV?

A: Books with familiar characters can be good choices for children who already watch TV. Remember though, “When children watch television, it visually presents every image to them; but when hearing a story, listeners must mentally CREATE many of the scenes. This is developmentally stimulating and nurtures a child’s natural sense of creativity.” J. Martin

Q: My child can read now. We still read aloud, but are there specific kinds of books we should be reading together?

A: In an effort to keep reading enjoyable, we advise that you read whatever your child asks to hear. That said, if you would like to share more complicated stories with your child, Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook offers the following information: "Research shows that it is not until 8th grade that a student's reading level catches up to his or her listening level. Until that time, most students are capable of hearing, understanding, and enjoying material that is more complicated than what they could read."

Q: My son is one of those readers who learns only what you teach him. He is a bright kid, but when it comes to direct knowledge, he absorbs what he is taught, but does not always translate that knowledge to other situations. For example, if the teacher has taught the sight word “like”, my son will be able to pick out that word every time it appears, and read it fluently without missing a beat. However, he will stumble at the name “Mike”. I have tried to push his reading along at home, but every time I do, he pushes back. He loves books though. What should I do?

A: There is a point when reading simply ‘clicks’ with young children. At that point, most words can be decoded and read in a matter of seconds and reading becomes a string of ‘sight words’. Developmentally however, many children do not broadly apply that kind of knowledge (even when they are proficient at identifying examples presented independently) until first or second grade. If your child’s teacher is assigning specific books or reading exercises to be completed at home, be certain to work with your son on those. In addition, if you are reading with him and it is convenient and low stress, you might point out where words look and sound the same as the sight words your son has already learned. Most importantly, continue reading with your son each and every day just for fun - not for learning to read. Choose books your son will love in order to protect his love of  books and reading. Your son will continue working on decoding and reading fluently in school, but you also want him to continue to enjoy reading for years to come.

Q: My five-year old son is naturally skilled in a good many areas, and things have come easily for him – both in school and in sports. Unfortunately when challenges do present themselves, he becomes frustrated, cries, and he usually ends up giving up – putting down his pencil or “checking out” of a practice. Can you recommend a book to read that might help him understand that people have to work “even harder” when things get tough? 

A: There are a great many of books that cover topics related to the stages of early development. Your local librarian would likely be a good resource for any questions regarding book content. The classic, The Little Engine That Could (Watty Piper),  is a wonderful book about perseverance that appeals to a wide audience. Be sure to point out the little blue engine’s choice to “work even harder when things get tough”. As you read, remind your son that it was the little blue engine’s effort that helped her reach the goal, not innate ability. We also love the book Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg which is a celebration of mistakes.

Advice From Parents and Caregivers

Q: How do other parents of infants, toddlers and preschoolers get their kids interested in reading?

A: “Try different books...fiction and non fiction some with words and some picture books. Go with what interests him...diggers, dinosaurs, dancing, Dora whatever...Try a recorded story that you both listen to, let him see you reading and enjoying it...don't push him to read...he will when he is ready!” JH

“You could always try a torch. My daughter likes to shine the torch on the pages while I read!” RW

“Letting them see you read is a very positive thing. I do this with my little one make sure to say mommy is reading. Then ask them to get a book and you will read to them. Also to add another idea I have a 23 month old he reads in his baby bed. I have a basket of board books next to his bed and I'll throw some in there with him and he will lay down and look at them it's very calming for him. Sometimes them just being involved with the thought of reading is a good way to form reading habits.” KDR

“The bath is the best spot to read or when going to bed.” AA

“I tried different books to find out what works for her. Lots of pictures, reading with actions and sound effects, and asking questions engaged her and got her interested” JC

“My firstborn was [a reluctant reader] and I was determined to read to him. What I did was find the book to match his interest. He liked the book that I could read fast, with lots of rhymes. The specific book that held his attention was Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumbs. My 2nd child loved all books. Try all kinds of books to see what your child likes!” VB

“Babies are very sensory oriented so try the book Pat the Bunny. Another good book for babies is FIRST THE EGG. You can find these books at Barnes & Noble or online. Try reading to him GOOD NIGHT MOON, by Margaret Wise Brown. A favorite with most young children!” VB

“We had a stretch where small boy refused even his bedtime book. We told stories instead, just making them up: what happened today, tales from our childhoods, even the plots (sort of) of our favourite movie scenes. We got better at it says we went along. Books stayed scattered all over the house and eventually he went back to them. Still loves us to "tell me a story, mom”!” FV

“1. Let him see you reading. It's important for you to set the example. 

2. Put baskets of books around the house for easy access. He WILL reach out and grab them at random.

3. Playing with books is still a GREAT step for him. Especially if he is almost 2. He can't read yet, so playing with them is totally normal.

4. Make sure the books include an interest he is into. If he loves cars, make sure you have a lot of books with cars. Dinosaurs? Ninjas? Tractors? Space? Etc. There are so many ways to reach out to their minds. We, as mothers, have to pay so close attention to detail. I heard a quote yesterday that said "No child hates to read. They are just given the wrong books." CU

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