How reading to your child from the earliest months provides a lifetime of benefits

Encouraging a 1-year-old to turn the pages while reading a bedtime story, asking a 2-year-old to point to the butterfly on the page over breakfast, or bringing a word book on the bus to share with a toddler — the research behind the importance of reading to your child as early as possible is well-established and sound. But the benefits go much deeper than just helping your child develop their vocabulary and reading skills.

Spending time with your child and a book builds bonds for a lifetime. The love, tenderness and curiosity it instills in them provide the foundation to become a happy, healthy and stable older child, and even adult. The emotional and physical engagement promotes closeness, creating a moment of full attention on the book and on one another.

According to the National Institute of Literacy, early reading experiences activate brain function and help develop cognitive abilities. When parents and caregivers read to children through books and stories, it helps them to think critically. It also helps children with their social and emotional development, promoting empathy and emotional intelligence as they learn about emotions, relationships and social situations depicted in books.

Early literacy — including language development, phonological awareness, print awareness, vocabulary building and reading comprehension skills — helps young children gain language and foundational reading skills during the early stages of childhood. It shapes a child’s kindergarten readiness and puts them on the path to lifelong learning.

The importance of reading to young children led The Children’s Trust to start a Book Club for 3-year-olds in 2011, hoping to build their excitement and motivation around reading ahead of kindergarten by offering a free monthly book for them to read. But soon, the organization realized the importance of providing access to books beginning at birth until children start school, both to improve their school readiness and to support their social and emotional wellness.

In 2019, the Book Club was extended to offer free monthly age-appropriate books in English and Spanish to all Miami-Dade County children from birth until their 5th birthday. In 2023, the Book Club began including a special mailing in Haitian Creole.

The expansion has been a success with more than 90,000 memberships offered and millions of books given away to families. The Children’s Trust Book Club has become so popular that it served as a model for a statewide program, and last year, new registrations had to be put on hold to maintain the promised services to registered families. Additional investment this year means the Book Club is fully open for registration with over 45,000 members receiving book packages monthly and room for even more members.

As part of the Book Club, The Children’s Trust sends out reading guides and activity sheets with the monthly book. The reading guides give tips on how to read the monthly book to children and ways to use the book to increase their child’s connection to each other and the outside world. The activity sheets provide fun exercises that build on the message and vocabulary of the books.

Early learning lays the groundwork for a child’s educational journey and has a profound impact on their overall brain development. The Children’s Trust Book Club provides a significant resource in promoting these early literacy skills by offering free, high-quality books to young children. It not only helps children build essential reading skills but also provides opportunities for parents and caregivers to bond with their children over a shared love of reading.

Through programs like the Book Club, parents can ensure that tens of thousands of children in Miami-Dade have the opportunity to develop strong literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading.

To sign up children from birth to 4-and-a-half years old in The Children’s Trust Book Club visit

Danielle Barreras
Danielle Barreras

Danielle Barreras, associate director of community engagement for The Children’s Trust, is an advocate for children & families, and a subject matter expert on literacy initiatives and partnerships. As an educator for over a decade, she is a community connector with a track record of developing collaborative efforts that positively impact children.