How do you stimulate a love of reading? Some might say that, in a technological age, the idea of reading for pleasure is laughable.

But computer games do not exclude reading and, strangely, nor do story tapes.

Both are wonderful play-things but neither offers what a storybook can: that excitement when you realise: "They're talking about me. That story is about me."

Reading for pleasure means developing a relationship with the writer or responding to the writer's offer of friendship.

This is a very sophisticated concept for a child after all, what they're looking at is just a package of paper. And, indeed, there are many adults who have not experienced that sense of revelation when a book appears to speak to them.

How do you introduce your toddler to this exciting new experience? The first stage is bedtime or any-time reading, when you're both relaxed and ready to share a book.

A little preparation is invaluable but it's hardly arduous: just read through the book on your own, looking particularly closely at the pictures the real attraction for children.

Most of us have seen The Very Hungry Caterpillar but, you look at it through the eyes of a child, you will find many more things than you might expect, all of which you can talk about with your child: the colours, the shapes, the different types of fruit, numbers, new words like "caterpillar", the way the caterpillar changes from egg larva to butterfly.

When storytime comes, first focus on the pictures. Describe, count, compare, discuss. Then, when your child is fired up, read the story.

And, each time you take up the book again, there will be more things to learn, for example, that words like eat and hungry represent things or activities.

Should your child recognise or read a word, be lavish with your praise.

Even apparently simple picture books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar can extend a child's knowledge and experience of the world.

A fun way of encouraging natural inquisitiveness is to use a storysack, a simple pull-string fabric bag, in which you keep all the resources you have to hand that can support a story Put like that, it doesn't sound much but inside the bag you have hours of fun distilled. In the case of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you would first put in the bag the book and story tape.

Then think of other activities related to caterpillars and butterflies. For example, you could include:

A bug collector's kit (or jam jar, fabric square and rubber band). A first book of butterflies. A recipe for butterfly cakes (where you slice off the top, cut it in two for wings and stick them on at an angle with jam and cream).

Some seeds to plant to attract butterflies. You can extend the theme by decorating the bag with an appliqued caterpillar.

Then, make the most of the storysack: use it as a lucky dip, where the first thing your child pulls out determines what activity you're going to do together.

And, when you've exhausted all the ideas held in the bag, you probably both deserve an afternoon at a butterfly farm.