Share a Story

Inspiring Adults to Help Children Develop Skills

Share a Story was designed to inspire adults to help millions of children develop language and literacy skills through daily activities, including book reading, drawing, storytelling, rhyming and singing.

Literacy experts have long recognized the link between children’s exposure to language and their eventual reading success. Share a Story demonstrates how any caring adult can help raise a child’s reading achievement.

Share A Story… Shape their Future

When children are nourished by words, they are better prepared to read and succeed in school. Any family member or caregiver, regardless of wealth, education or native language, can help enhance a child’s reading success by engaging in simple and fun activities. Reading aloud, sharing stories, singing songs and making rhymes teach children important lessons about words and how we use them.


Newborns (to 18 months)

Birth to Six Months:

Newborns are calmed by the sounds of lullabies and nursery rhymes in their first stories. By four months, a baby will show interest in books by chewing on them or throwing them.

Six to 12 Months:

Looking at the books together, and talking about the picture, will enhance a baby’s interest in a story. Invite eight and nine month olds to turn the pages.

12 to 18 Months:

Babies delight in reading books with adults. Babies are natural explorers, so choose books with special fabrics and textures they can touch and feel. They will turn pages, name objects and begin to enjoy simple stories.

Tips for Reading to Newborns

Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs to newborns.
Introduce books to babies at around four months old.
Establish a regular reading routine by your baby’s first birthday.
Visit your local library. It’s fun for you and your baby.

Toddlers (18-36 months)

Even though toddlers are still developing language, reading is very important at this age to learn about new words and concepts, and to introduce letters.

Tips for Reading to Toddlers

Show toddlers that books are special.
Encourage care when handling books.
Read a variety of books.
Keep it interesting for you and your toddler.
Build reading into an everyday routine.
Bedtime and naptime are often favorites.
Talk to your toddler as you read.
Label objects and ask questions.

Preschoolers (3-4 years)

At this stage, children use their ever-increasing language skills to become “big talkers” and develop an awareness of the power of the written word. To help young children develop into readers and writers, play with letters and their sounds, promote dramatic play using characters from books, and read lots of books together.

Tips for Reading to Preschoolers

Point out the author and illustrator. Let them know someone created their book.
Point out each word with your finger. This reinforces word relationships.
Read and reread favorite books every day. Young children delight in predictability.
Read books with a variety of characters. This stimulates imagination.
Ask questions about the story. This helps link your child’s life with the story.

Kindergarten (4-5 years)

Most kindergartners are on the threshold of becoming readers. To extend the child’s budding literacy skills, read and write as often as possible, and introduce new words while talking together.

Tips for Reading to Kindergarten Aged Children

Establish a special time for reading aloud every day.
Read different kids of books together. Variety broadens knowledge and vocabulary.
Talk about more than just the plot of the story.
Ask why things happened and why characters acted in a certain way.
Let the child read and offer help only when asked or needed.
Read aloud both short chapter books and longer picture books.
Don’t limit reading to books. Encourage the reading of signs, shopping lists, etc.

First Grade (5-6 years)

The number of words your first-grader can read and spell increase dramatically this year. Most importantly your first-grader starts to “crack the code” of the written language, as he sounds out words, learns to identify them, and understands their meaning.

Tips for Reading to First Grade Aged Children

Discuss the book before, during and after it’s read to develop reading comprehension.
Encourage the child to correct reading errors by asking questions
“Did that make sense?” “Does that sound right?”
Reread books to help beginners become more fluent readers.
Make sure your child reads books at a comfortable level for them. Make it fun!
Read aloud books that are too difficult for the new reader.

Additional Information

Be sure to check out our Raising Readers web page. Also PBS Parents and PBS Teachers
are excellent resources to help you help those you care about.