A guide to early learning: What to know for reading readiness

An illustration of babies and toddlers sitting on a rug and playing with books.
(Illustration by Eddy Mayer / For The Times)

The 2024 Reading by 9 guide was created through the generous support of the Ballmer Group. This year’s guide spotlights articles, activities, book recommendations and more for parents and educators of children ages 0-5.

Dear parents, teachers and educators,

Whether your child is just a few months old or preparing to start kindergarten, you can read to them and build a foundation for future growth and learning. Reading to your young child can teach them about emotions and empathy; it can help enrich their vocabulary, foster learning across languages and prepare them for their school journey.

For 26 years, Reading by 9 has put together an assortment of resources and book recommendations to help parents build their child’s literacy skills. Available in English and Spanish, this year’s literacy guide is filled with research-based advice from local organizations and experts on topics ranging from social-emotional development to bilingual learning.

We hope these resources will help direct you as you embark on a journey through literacy with the child in your life and introduce them to the wonderful world of reading.


Setting a foundation for reading

Learn about the benefits of reading and how you can encourage your child to enjoy it.

How literacy can support your baby’s growth

Literacy is integral to development. Learn how reading can help your child.

Children’s desk

Read aloud with your baby

The Coquíes Still Sing

Los Coquíes Aún Cantan

Book Recommendations

  • By Suzanne Lang, Max Lang

    Jim is in a horrible mood and just can’t shake it. His friends make suggestions but Jim can’t handle their kindness and throws a fit. Sometimes everyone just needs a day to feel grumpy.

    Buy here

  • By Margery Facklam, Sylvia Long

    Who eats bugs for lunch? Humans, animals and plants all do in this informative book of poems. Satiate your little reader’s quest for all things creepy and crawly with this fun book.

    Buy here

  • By José-Luis Orozco, Elisa Kleven

    Folk songs from many different Spanish-speaking countries grace the pages of this book of action songs. Follow diagrams and music included to delight young readers.

    Buy here

  • By Donald Crews

    This Caldecott Honor book helps young readers learn their numbers and colors in both English and Spanish. Help young readers with positional language and basic vocabulary using this classic book about trains.

    Buy here

  • By Carmen Lomas Garza

    Carmen Lomas Garza’s paintings are described individually in both English and Spanish in this beautiful picture book. Illustrations about community and family are paired with memories about growing up in Kingsville, Texas.

    Buy here

  • By Pat Mora, Maribel Suarez

    Written by the founder of the family literacy initiative, Children’s Day, this book depicts a typical day with young children. Build bilingual vocabulary around everyday family activities.

    Buy here

  • By Alma Flor Ada, Felipe Dávalos

    After the sun disappears, people and animals are afraid. But a brave lizard refuses to give up until she brings back the light.

    Buy here

  • By Katie Davis

    Some animals don’t hop, others can’t crawl. Help your young reader discover how different creatures get around in this silly picture book, available in both English and Spanish.

    Buy here

  • By Aaron Blabey

    A short and silly book about a porcupine in need of a hug (and a snake that just wants a kiss). Each page is translated in both English and Spanish within clear speech bubbles for the reader.

    Buy here

  • By Lucky Diaz, Micah Player, Carmen Tafolla

    A young girl in Los Angeles follows her dreams to become a rockstar, using a broken guitar that she found in the trash. With the help of her community, she repairs and repaints the guitar to look brand new. Fully bilingual edition available May 7, 2024.

    Buy here

  • By Alexandra Alessandri, Courtney Dawson

    Isabel speaks Spanish. When she goes to school, she has a hard time feeling comfortable because her classmates all speak English. With the help of her colores, she finds that friendship is a universal language.

    Buy here

  • By Ben Gundersheimer, Marcos Almada Rivero

    Señorita Mariposa makes her flight from the U.S. and Canada down to Mexico. Written in rhymes, some in English, others in Spanish, this book details the trip of the Monarch Butterfly. Read about how she delights the animals and people along her way.

    Buy here

Literacy Programs

Children's Institute

Los Angeles County Nonprofit
4 centers across Los Angeles.

News Literacy Project


Support Services



Los Angeles Public Library


Los Angeles County Library


Orange County Public Libraries


This supplement did not involve the editorial or reporting staff of the Los Angeles Times except where noted.

The guide is free to parents, educators and organizations working with children and families. To contact us with comments and questions or to receive more information, email

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