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Reading Levels

How to Teach Your Baby to Listen to an Entire Book

As parents ourselves, we know how hard it is to try to read a squirming, curious baby a book, nevermind make it through a whole one. And between lots of loads of little laundry, battling the barrage of bottles in the sink, and sneaking some time in for a shower yourself (why does that somehow feel like a luxury?), it’s hard to even find the time.

But if you can teach your baby to listen to an entire book (or most of it), you’ll be introducing them to a host of new things that they’ll need to help their brains develop—and for learning important building blocks of language, communication, and writing.

And remember, it’s okay to start with baby steps! It will take time—it’s not instinctive for a child to know they should listen to a book cover to cover. We get to teach them the wonders of reading by making storytime interesting. 

Here are some tried-and-true ways you can begin to encourage your baby to listen to a book all the way through:

Talk about things on the pages
Point out animals, shapes, colors, or maybe even a character that looks like Grandpa—any little detail can engage them and help them learn new things.

Make sounds, voices, or sing songs as you read
Each character can have a different voice, or repeated phrases can be made into fun songs. You’ll make storytime memorable and enjoyable. 

Let toddlers turn the pages
Yes, we know the struggle. But, if you let them do this, it enhances their interest, and feeling “part” of the reading experience will encourage them to listen and discover other books as well!

Show them the words and the direction you’re reading them
Since reading is not instinctive, you can show little ones how it works by running your finger beneath the words as you read them.

Show them the cover
Read the title, author, illustrator, and talk about the cover art to entice them. You can even try asking questions to older babies and toddlers: what might this book be about? Do you like the colors?

Relate characters, animals, or items in the pictures to real life
Does that bespectacled badger look like Uncle Joe? Maybe the reliable rabbit reminds you of a kind friend or neighbor. Make these connections to add another level of engagement!

The right books for the job

To help support you, we asked our expert curators to provide a list of their favorite books for helping babies and toddlers listen to a whole story. Here they are!

Book Cover Sheep in a Jeep

Sheep in a Jeep

By Nancy E. Shaw

This lively, funny tale is perfect for reading aloud and engaging little ones. With rambunctious sheep rollicking and bouncing about on a mission in a jeep, you’ll get to repeat silly rhymes, talk about farm animals, and probably elicit more than a few giggles!

Book Cover Goodnight ABCs

Goodnight ABCs

By Erin Guendelsberger

With an evergreen message of love, adorable animal illustrations, and heartwarming rhymes, this sweet bedtime story is perfect for reading together before bed. Tuck your little one in for the night with this board book that helps babies and toddlers understand bedtime routines with each letter of the alphabet.

Book cover for Don't Push the Button

Don’t Push the Button!

By Bill Cotter

A great read-aloud, interactive picture book that kids will go back to time and again. There’s only one rule in monster Larry’s book: don’t push the button. (Seriously, don’t even think about it!) Even if it does look kind of nice, you must never push the button. Who knows what would happen? Celebrate curiosity and storytime fun with this silly monster book.

Book Cover Where is Bear

Where is Bear?

By Lesléa Newman

You and your little reader can join the search for Bear in this sweet padded board book! The animals in the forest are playing hide-and-seek, and everyone is found—except for the biggest creature of all! Where, oh where, could Bear have gone? One thing is certain: his loyal friends will do whatever it takes to find him (and you’ll have fun searching right along with them)!

…And they read happily ever after

We hope these tips and book recommendations help you to make storytime even more fun and meaningful—and perhaps a little bit longer over time. And if you aren’t able to make it all the way through a book with your baby, know that that’s okay! Even just a few dedicated minutes of reading can help your child become interested in books and pave the way for a lifetime of learning. 

Literati makes it easy to find the best books for your baby with our book clubs designed for every age and reading level. You’ll teach your baby to listen to books cover to cover in no time!

Discover our Dreamer or Seeker Level book boxes, for babies and toddlers from 0-2 years old.

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake

Robin Newman

Captain Griswold and Detective Wilcox are two hard-boiled, no-nonsense MFIs—Missing Food Investigators. They also happen to be mice in trench coats. But don’t let the fur fool you: these mice are fearless detectives who won’t rest until they catch the crook. With plenty of clues tucked into quick, readable text, your reader will race to solve the case until they reach the ending twist they’ll never see coming. Readers from preschool to second grade will devour this hilarious first installment in the Wilcox and Griswold easy reader series and still be hungry for more.

Authored by Charlie DeTar
November 11, 2022
Included in this Article

The Dreamer Level Box

0-6 Months 7-12 Months

The Seeker Level Box

0-6 Months 7-12 Months 2 Years


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