reading together
Life with a Baby

Reading 20 Minutes a Day (& Our Top 10 Favorite Books!)

Reading 20 Minutes a Day

“Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime.” -American Academy of Pediatrics: Literacy Promotion: An Essential Component of Primary Care Pediatric Practice

Before becoming a mom, I had (and still do) worked for multiple school districts who implemented the ‘Ready! For Kindergarten’ program. This program is AMAZING and I highly recommend seeing if the school district you live in offers the program, you can easily check by following this link: 

The idea of this program is all based around the parent/caregiver being the child’s FIRST and BEST teacher. Each workshop has a different focus, early literacy, early math skills, and early social & emotional skills, but the thing all the workshops push is reading with your child for 20 minutes every day.

Reading together
Reading together

It is so important! Reading with your child is a bonding experience, it builds a closer relationship between you and your child, it expands knowledge and vocabulary, helps with memory and attention span, encourages imagination and curiosity, and overall improves the child’s quality of life.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started reading to my baby before he was even born. I have also committed to reading 20 minutes a day with him, every day. (Not going to lie, we mess up and miss the occasional day.) You can join the almost half a million other parents/caregivers who took this pledge by signing up here: 

My son’s attention span has lengthened as he develops every day. There are some days we can fly through 20 minutes of reading and looking at books together. And some days, the 20 minutes of reading takes many sessions of sitting down together to get through.  My son’s book collection brings me so much joy to look at. He has a beautiful collection of books that have been given to him as gifts, collected as hand-me-downs, thrifted or found at garage sales. Having a large collection of books we love helps to encourage wanting to read 20 minutes a day.

Our Top 10 Favorite Books

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1.  Giraffes Can’t Dance– Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

The cadence of this book is one of my favorites to read aloud. The illustrations are beautiful and silly. The story goes through a whole range of emotions: sadness, embarrassment, encouragement, hope, confidence, excitement, and more! I love to change the inflection of my voice based on who is talking in the story or based on how Gerald the giraffe is feeling. I can keep my son’s attention through the whole book with all the silly voices we go through. We both love this one!

2.   Baby Beluga (Raffi Songs to Read)– Raffi

I grew up listening to Raffi and know this song by heart. I often sing the song to my son. My mom had recently purchased the board book, and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t in my collection already, so it was a no brainer to add to our collection. I sing this loud and proud as Jake intakes all the pictures.

3.   The Best Mouse Cookie (If You Give…) – Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond

I love all of the ‘mouse’ books! This has to be my personal favorite though because my family is known for making chocolate chip cookies. I can make them in my sleep and haven’t had to look at the recipe in years. So, reading about a mouse making mountains of cookies warms my heart (and makes me hungry!) This is a nice short story that we enjoy together.

4.  Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes padded board book  – Mem Fox

I read this book in a soft voice to my son. We count his fingers and toes. This book also displays diversity. Each baby is spotlighted for what makes them different and special but always returns to the point that we all are the same and have our ten little fingers and ten little toes. The illustrations are also beautiful, the clean white background makes the soft images pop.

5.   We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Classic Board Books)  – Michael Rosen

This book is fabulous for its repetition and rhythm! It makes a fun chant to be listened to and read. The contrast of the black and white illustrations and the full-color illustrations keep the eye interested. This is a bit longer book for my five-month-old, so we sometimes read it in chunks.

6.   The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carl

This is a classic! I loved going to my grandma’s house and finding this book as a child. The board book is such fun because of the holes through the food illustrations. The pages are very interesting to my son, as they increase in size and have the hole through the center. We count and talk about each food. This book combines biology, counting, and food in such a visually appealing way.

7.   Let’s Dance, Little Pookie  – Sandra Boynton

I enjoy all of   Sandra Boyton’s books  because they are short & sweet. These books have fun rhyming and have easy illustrations for little ones to look at.  

8.   Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

Reading this book with my son is probably more of an entertainment factor for me since he is only five months old. But, the illustrations are to die for, and reading Max’s words allowed is always a good time. Plus, having a son, I can imagine him being in Max’s shoes one day and running away through his imagination.

9.  Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown

Another classic! Who hasn’t read Goodnight Moon?! This one is relaxing for my son to study each page. The familiar items and the soothing poetry is the perfect way to end the day.

10.   Touch and Feel, crinkle and fabric books 

My son has a few fabric and crinkle books that we keep in different rooms of the house and in the car. He loves the noise they make and can he easily hold the lightweight books. These are a must for the book collection and they double as a toy!

Sometimes reading out loud sounds like such a chore, but as soon as we crack open a book, it opens a whole new world. I can see my son’s mind light up and know that his brain is taking it all in. Reading is magic!  

The Reading Foundation is a beautiful resource for reading with children. You can find great tips for reading with a child of any age here: