Babies and Books

I’m a grandma, twice now. Austin, who is 3 years old, and Allison (Allie) who is 7 months old. Just as I did with my son Nick, I’ve inundated them with books and read to them since they were fetuses. As a librarian, mother and now a grandmother, I’ve always known how important it is to read to children from birth, but science is confirming those instincts.

This is from an article from our Digital Branch  in the Consumer Health Complete database under Health and Wellness. It’s called “Baby Steps” by Anita Sethi from the December, 2006 issue of Baby Talk magazine.

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud daily to your child starting at 6 months, there’s no reason why your newborn can’t enjoy a good book, too. Research indicates that by age 2, children who were read to at an early age had better language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive scores. Here’s how to start your baby’s love affair with books: get cozy. Curl up with your tiny tot and hold the book so she can see the pictures. Babies love to hear the sound of their mom’s voice, so not only read the story to her but comment on it (“That’s so funny!’). Turn off distractions like the radio and TV, and devote your attention to her. feed her senses. Babies especially like stories with rhythmic patterns, such as songs and nursery rhymes. Board books with clear, high-contrast illustrations will be most appealing. They also love pictures of other babies. Try relating the pictures to her life (“Here’s a rubber duckie. You have one in your tub!”).
Schedule a daily story time. Build books into your routine now. Set aside a few minutes every day to read aloud when she is rested and alert. Start by reading a page or two at a time and gradually add more as she becomes engaged. If she gets restless or fussy, put the book away and try again the next day.

As I visit with customers in the library, I frequently approach young parents with babies, ask if they’ve visited our children’s area and if they’re reading to their little ones. It’s wonderful to hear how often they’re taking advantage of the expertise of our youth services librarians and participating in our Born Learning program, but if not, my goal is to get them there and to walk out the door with that first board book for baby.

I just returned from a visit with my grandchildren in Iowa. And once again I’m reminded of how important and fun it is to read to young children. My husband Ried and I did lots of things with our grandkids. We went to the park, participated in an Easter egg hunt, helped Austin ride his brand new Spiderman bike, played on the floor with Allie and practiced waving bye-bye. And we read to both children. For Austin, it was The Cat in the Hat and Are You My Mother? For Allie, it was The Very Hungry Caterpillar (which she actually tried to chew – she’s teething at the moment.) I noticed when I picked it up that there was already a bite-shaped section taken out of the top of the book. Evidently Austin thought it was tasty too.

Remember that reading is a feast for all the senses – that’s how we develop that lifelong love of books and reading. If there’s any doubt about how babies love books, take a look at Allie. She not only loves stories, she thinks they’re delicious!

For more info. and lists, check out Babies Need Books; Sharing the Joy of Books with Children from Birth to Six by Dorothy Butler

Great first books for babies: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

We have hundreds of board books for babies and toddlers in the children’s area. Every child is different. Find the right one for the baby or young child in your life. And let me know what worked for you and the baby or child that you love.

What is your baby’s or grandbaby’s favorite book?

2 thoughts on “Babies and Books”

  1. What a great post! We’ve always read to our 2 kiddos, from the very first day. Our son Henry (age 3)loves many books, but some favorite first books for him were Freight Train by Donald Crews, I am a Bunny by Ole Risom, and anything featuring a certain mouse named Maisy. Our daughter Beatrice (age 8 months) just likes any book she can get into her mouth. Tasty, tasty board books.

  2. Great advice – we read to our daughter every night and often during playtime as well. Current favorites at are The Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton, which has a great rhythm for reading aloud and Touch and Feel Kitten, because our cats don’t tolerate baby petting nearly as well as the cats in the book do!

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