One of the best things we can do for our kids is instill a love of reading— it’ll help them in school, at work, and in life in general. And one of the most enjoyable and easiest ways to begin laying that literary foundation? Reading stories together, of course!

Whether you read them only at bedtime or throughout the day, there’s no denying the sweet ritual of turning the pages with your little ones. So many of us have wonderful memories of being read to as children, and we all want to pass on that tradition to our own children. After all, entering the worlds of imagination together is one of the best ways for parent and child to bond!

The parents of the baby in the video below have certainly done a good job of building this book bond— perhaps a little too good of a job, as you’ll see when you watch. They’ve dubbed their little guy “The Saddest Bookworm”, and it’s a moniker as accurate as it is adorable.

So why instill this love if it has the potential to be so “sad”? Well, for starters, the mom and dad here are supporters of Traveling Stories, an organization dedicated to “transforming reluctant readers into confident ones!” The group’s aims are to make reading enjoyable for everybody, and to engage the entire family in making children fall in love with reading by the fourth grade. This video demonstrates how well this love can flourish when both parents get involved and start early, so it’s easy to see why Mom and Dad here recommend the group to everybody who watches their video.

Mom reads book to the Saddest Bookwormleesedanielle

“But wait,” we can here some of you asking. “Doesn’t this baby seem a little young to really understand what a book even is? Are these parents really accomplishing anything? And if they have to call him ‘The Saddest Bookworm,’ is this all really such a good thing?”

Well dear readers, the answers to all the questions are yes! As this report from PBS points out, even newborns can benefit from story time, and those benefits develop as your child does:

Newborns are calmed by the rhythmic sounds of lullabies and nursery rhymes. These will be their first stories. Your baby may even begin to recognize a song or rhyme if you repeat it often. By the time she is 4 months old, your baby will show an interest in books [. . .] During this period [6 to 12 months old], babies become less interested in mouthing books and more interested in the story [. . .] Babies [age 12 to 18 months] delight in reading together with adults. Your baby will turn pages and name pictures of fams of familiar objects. She may begin to enjoy books that tell simple stories.

So we know that even from a very young age, babies will engage with books. And that engagement is so important for your baby’s future development and success. Parents Magazine points out that:

Studies have also shown that children who were read to as newborns have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age. There’s also a direct link between how many words a baby hears each day and her language skills. One study found that babies whose parents spoke to them a lot scored higher on standard tests when they reached age 3 than children whose parents weren’t as verbal.

The American Psychological Association agrees, stating that “Most parents know that reading bedtime stories to preschoolers is key to developing early literacy.” So it follows that the sooner you start engaging your children with the written word, the better!

Which brings us to the last question— why do these parents call their little one “The Saddest Bookworm”? Well for that, you’ve got to watch the video below, which shows this little guy’s adorable reaction when the story ends. While it is sad, it’s also adorable, and more importantly, demonstrates that he’s already in love with reading. Just watch.

What books do you like to read to your kids? How young were they when you started reading stories together? Do you have any tricks for encouraging a love of reading?