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Information and inspiration for parents and caregivers of babies, toddlers and preschoolers

Growing a reader from the very beginning

Babies develop language skills from the day they are born. When your child hears words and language, their brain develops important connections needed to learn how to read. Reading with your baby is also a great opportunity to build a strong and healthy relationship between parent and child. That’s what your baby needs most.

Every year, throughout March, classrooms across the nation host reading events for elementary school children. But early literacy starts way before a child reaches a classroom. It begins before babies can talk and continues as they become toddlers and preschoolers. In fact, studies have linked the number of words children know at ages 3 and 4 to their reading comprehension levels in third and fourth grade. Reading daily with children starting at birth helps them learn new words.


The skills needed to be a good reader, like language and vocabulary, start developing from birth. But it doesn’t happen automatically.

Learn more about early literacy

Read On Arizona

More great resources to help you grow a love of reading in your young child can be found through Read On Arizona, a First Things First partner that works across Arizona to support early literacy for kids birth to 8 years old.

Smart Talk encourages parents to have quality back-and-forth conversations with your baby during everyday moments, such as mealtime, baths and diaper changes. Though babies can’t talk, they can still communicate through eye contact, facial expressions, smiles and crying.

It is said that children are made readers in the laps of their parents. You can help your child build early language and literacy skills in many ways, beginning by making time to read together every day.

More Language and Literacy Resources

More Language and Literacy Resources

Language and literacy development starts from the very beginning. Babies are listening in utero, and once they’re born, they’re communicating through eye contact, facial expressions, crying, smiles and touch. When adults respond with words, conversation and attention, it helps promote healthy development and learning.

Inspire a love of reading

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