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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

Child experts agree that reading with your baby or young child is really important for their early development.

The special, unrushed time you spend reading – or just looking at books – together will help you build a close parent-child relationship as well as developing your child’s communication and social skills.

Moreover, reading is key to learning. Research consistently shows that children who enjoy reading do better at school in all subjects.

Why reading to a young child is important

Fostering your child’s love of reading and books will help their development in many ways:

  • Children who are read to from a young age become familiar with language, words and sounds.
  • Stories can help a young child to understand events and emotions in ‘real’ life, e.g. a death in the family, going to school.
  • Stories and illustrations help to spark a child’s imagination and encourage their curiosity.
  • Looking at the words in a book will help children develop early literacy skills.
  • Stories help a child to understand the difference between reality and make-believe.
  • An early love and respect for books will stay with your child throughout their life.

Settling down to read

Storytelling doesn’t always have to take place immediately before bed. Find somewhere quiet without any distractions and turn off the television and your phone. Sit close to your child and, if they are old enough, ask them to choose the book and turn the pages.

Once a child is familiar with a story, encourage them to tell you the story as you’re looking at the pictures together. Depending on your child’s age, you could discuss the story with them afterwards and talk about the characters, their actions and emotions.  

Local libraries

Although the number of public libraries has reduced in recent years, there are still libraries in most sizeable towns (and sometimes several). Find out where you nearest library is located and more about other library services in Wales here.

Libraries are free to use and most don’t charge under 16s for overdue books.

If you live in a rural area, there may be a mobile library that stops near you. You will need to be a member to borrow books. Check your local council website.

Many libraries hold storytelling sessions during school holidays. If you’re looking for tips on how to spin a great yarn, why not go along and learn from the experts?

Welsh libraries

My digital library is full of e-books, e-magazines and e-audio books. There is no borrowing charge, you just have to join the library.

If you’re stuck for ideas, Who Next ...? will help you choose your child’s next book based on authors they already like.

BookTrust Cymru

BookTrust Cymru gives a free Bookstart pack to every baby born in Wales and offers further book packs at key stages before school, as well as packs for children with additional needs, tips and guidance on reading together, resources, activities, and much more.

Last updated: 22/02/2023