A mom approached me after a seminar and said, "Would it be helpful if I crawl into my child's bedroom at night and read Bible stories into my child's ear while he is sleeping?"

Wow! She really wanted her child to learn to read. I was excited by her interest in her child's literacy. But I needed to steer her in the direction of daytime reading.

How can you maximize helping your child learn to read? Let's begin with what is appropriate for children of varying ages.

Birth to 1 year old: board books, books with textures, and toy books are the best bet.

Choose books that have one bold picture per page, with fun themes such as farm animals, colors, or numbers. Your baby can even take plastic books into the bubble bath. Words of some books are actually songs—so don't just read the book, sing the book! Board books make great baby shower presents.

Babies have short attention spans. Stop reading before they get the wiggles or weeps. Just spend five minutes per day introducing your child to the joy of reading.

Reading goals for children at this age are:
· Looking at the book and touching it.
· Listening to the sounds of reading.
· Seeing that pages turn.
· Expecting a new surprise on every page.

Toddler, two to three years old: bigger board books, books with sound push buttons, and books with fun wordplays will make your toddler happy. Ask relatives to give your child books as birthday or holiday presents.

Toddlers like to walk, run, and do almost anything other than sit on your lap. This is when animal crackers, raisins, or half a sandwich are helpful. Give your little one something to eat to help him focus. Sit him on your lap with an engaging book, and read it with an engaging voice!

Reading goals for children at this age are:
· Helping you choose the books to be read.
· Looking at the book and quietly listening to the story, or interacting with helpful noises when appropriate.
· Helping turn the pages. (Make it extra fun by "beeping," so he knows when to turn the page.)
· Pushing a sound button when you get to rebus pictures. (Rebus is a picture instead of a word on the page.)
· Putting the book back into a basket or other container when you are finished.

Be sure to pay attention to your child's body language. Stop reading before he gets tired, and while it is still fun. But be ready—he may want you to read the same three books every day for two weeks!

Preschool, three to five years old: fiction and nonfiction picture books, rhyming and wordplay/alliteration books are great at this age. (Alliteration is words that all begin with the same letter.)

A child's listening vocabulary is huge. She is interested in both fiction and nonfiction. Reading begins in your child's ears. So read lots of Dr. Seuss and other rhyming books.

Kids love books about snakes, frogs, and whales. Your local library has picture books about cowboys, talking ducks, and even coyotes that steal blankets. Give your child a beginning-to-read Bible to read together. She will love stories about Adam and Eve, Moses' burning bush, and Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life.

Reading goals for children at this age are:
· Choosing and handing the book to you upside up.
· Learning how to rhyme.
· Looking at the print as you read. (Run your finger under the words that you are saying; your child will learn that reading goes from left to right, and top to bottom.)
· Matching the words you are saying to words she sees on the page.
· Controlling her body during the twenty minute reading time together.
· Memorizing the contents of fifty preschool books.1