There are some really good reasons to read to children of all ages and ways to encourage literacy even in small children. Reading is a great reason to turn off the TV and instill learning and confidence into a child while igniting their imagination.
Reading is an important way to bond with babies. It also promotes language development and listening skills. Touchy-feely books provide sensory stimulation. Colorful books help develop senses in even very young babies. Trying providing cloth, vinyl and board books for babies to explore. Early "reading" may look like chewing as babies explore things with their mouths. Try reading simple books about household items, such as kitty, ball, mommy, etc. Reading while cuddling with your baby is a great way to connect reading with pleasure. Be sure to respond to their "conversation" to encourage their responses. Be prepared to only capture their attention for a few minutes at a time at the baby stage.
Babies mostly like books with familiar items in baby's world, books with animal sounds, touchy-feely books with different textures, books with bright colors and bold pictures, as well as books with lullabies and rhymes/poetry.
You might find it difficult to catch a toddler long enough to have them sit to read a book. That is because they are so busy and have so much to do! It is best to catch a toddler when they are not interested in a new toy or when hungry or tired. Toddlers love small books that fit their hands.
Reading to toddlers helps develop their speech patterns. They learn new words which instills confidence and grows their imagination. Toddlers also love repetition so you might just find they have a favorite book which they want read over and over to them. Find opportune moments to read to your toddler which can be anywhere: the sandbox, while eating a meal, in the bath. They also like books where they have to "find the mouse" such as in Usborne Books "That's Not My" series which has a little white mouse hidden on every page for the child to find.
Instilling the love of reading into a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give the children in your life. A child's imagination is a precious thing to be nurtured. Books can transport children to far-away places and open up their world to learning.The Importance of Reading to Babies and Toddlers - Is it Worth It?