One of the best ways to understand the neuroscience of early brain and early literacy development is through a sports metaphor.  “Serve and Return” refers to the infant’s extraordinary capacity to take turns not only initiating an interaction (Serve) but also responding to a conversation (Return) with the most important people in the infant’s life. (see:


When babies and parents are interacting,  two important things happen: 1) the relationship between baby and parents deepens and bonds and, 2) this bond facilitates the baby’s desire to not only listen for the rhythm and patterns of the language, but to study what word-sounds look like on their parents’ mouths.

Like a diligent student attending to homework, babies are collecting important data from their parents so that the neural pathways for language (and later literacy) among their brain cells form and strengthen.

Bonding, listening and gazing come together to build the social, emotional and language foundation necessary for learning to read and succeed in school.

So give your baby the 3-dimensional world that builds bonding, listening and gazing  ….   daily reading.

Reading with newborn Henry.jpg


#7 of 13 parent messages from my book, “Make Time for Reading” available at


Some toddlers are not interested in sitting, listening and looking at a book. So wait until nap time or bed time when you see their little eye lids begin to droop, and read softly,  soothingly. Keep reading for a minute more even after they have fallen asleep. 

Read to them while they are in their high chair eating even if you think they are not listening. In this way, you are also feeding them new words and ideas.

Most of all, be patient and and don’t miss a day of reading.

The pay-off is huge!

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#4 of 13 Parent Messages to Help Build the Foundational Skills for Reading

 This is page 4 of my book,

Make Time for Reading- a Story Guide for Parents of Babies and Young Children                           available at

Sometimes as parents we are just too tired to read every, single night.

So what’s a great alternative?

Tell your child stories! Stories build closeness and an appreciation for family traditions and memories  ….especially funny stories you might tell about yourself as a child.

OR ….

check out books-without-words from your children’s library. Then you can make up the story as you go… with help of course from your little one.

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