Reading to babies
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Reading time has been integral to our daily rhythm since LO’s initial weeks. Even though it may seem that babies don’t understand what is being read, they are absorbing everything through their senses – seeing the pictures, touching the books, feeling the textures, hearing and understanding the language’s rhythm and feeling secure hearing the familiar voices. Above all, we find our reading time to be a great bonding time as we snuggle up in our reading nook. In this blog post I’ll be sharing the books we have loved reading from birth to 6 months and some helpful tips on setting up baby’s library and fostering early literacy skills.
High contrast books
Black and white books / high contrast books are the first books which we exposed LO to. Since baby’s vision is not fully developed at birth, the high contrast images help in visual stimulation. Hello, Bugs! and Look Look! were the first set of books in LO’s library and this kit has more options for black and white board books.
Most of the books that we have are board books since they are durable and safe for babies to mouth, explore, hold and manipulate them. LO enjoys board books which have brightly colored illustrations. One of her recent favorites is Nana’s Garden which has adorable illustrations which even I fell in love with. LO also enjoys looking at faces of people, especially pictures of other babies. Smile! is one such book in our collection.
Also choosing board books with simple words and/or simple stories make our reading more engaging. Books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar are no wonder classified as Classics. This book in particular has been on our shelf for months now and has been the most read book so far. Other types of board books include books on sounds with our favorites being Cheep cheep and Toot toot beep beep.
These are the books which LO loves the most – be it touch and feel books / lift-the-flap books / finger puppet books. She likes to run her fingers over the patches of textures in Touch and Feel: Farm, Baby Touch and Feel Animals and The Divine Friends and occasionally pulls the fur of sheepdog or the matted hair of Shiva. Ever since we introduced Baby Orca to LO, she has enjoyed the finger-puppet books and so we’ve added a couple more books to our collection – Little Moose and Itsy Bitsy Spider. Lift-the-flap books make our reading time exciting with peek-a-boos. Again, one can never go wrong with the classics - Dear Zoo, Where’s Baby’s Belly Button?
Crinkle cloth books
Babies love the crinkle noises be it from crinkly toys, baby wipes package, or just plain paper since it requires minimal effort to make noises as they explore them. Peek-a-boo forest is one such crinkle cloth book / soft book which has been a huge hit with LO as she manipulates those pages, grabs, crushes and mouths them. The peek-a-boo flaps further aid in the strengthening of the hand-eye coordination. And bonus points for the c-clip which can be used as a teether and to attach the book to the car seat or stroller.
True to the name, these books withstand babies’ chewing, drooling, spilling and even ripping apart; they are built for the way babies read. Each book comes with a theme such as Busy City, fruits and vegetables in Baby, Let's Eat!, Baby Animals.
This is by no means an exhaustive books list , but is meant to provide an overview of the types of books which you can read to your little ones.
If it’s a book that we’d love to own in our home library, I source them from Amazon or from the publisher directly in case of independent book publishers. I also check for books at the local libraries. Some of my favorite Indian storefronts include Pupilio books, Bookberries, Eat.Play.Read!, Little Reading Bunny, Pick-a-book India.
1. Start off small: It’s never too late to start reading to your little ones. If reading isn’t part of the daily routine, you could start off by setting aside a few minutes every day and gradually increase the time by following the child. It’s important to ensure that the baby is alert during that timeframe and there are no distractions such as the mobile phones.
2. Books with rhyme and repetition: Stories with predictable rhythmic patterns and repetitive phrases are great for early language learning. That’s something I look for in books for babies. Ten little fingers and ten little toes is a great rhyming tribute to babies around the world with rhyme and repetition of phrases.
3. Prepared environment: Create an environment for reading; it can be as simple as having a reading pillow and a display rack to hold a few books. We have multiple reading spaces throughout the home wherever we spend time together so that we have more opportunities to read whenever and wherever we want. In each reading space we have about 4 or 5 books. Also, the display racks are low-lying which means LO has access to them. Since she has been crawling and pulling out things, having accessible book racks are inviting to her.
4. Book rotation: Typically I rotate books based on LO’s interest. If there’s a book which she gets excited about every time we read, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I continue to have it on our rack. Otherwise, I toss them to the storage and bring them back at a later time. Sometimes I set out books on a certain theme, such as the Springtime reads. As baby grows older, the choices of books can be tailored to their interest.
5. Make reading enjoyable: Sometimes we don’t even read the whole story all the way through and we take a break when LO gets bored. Sometimes just talking about few pictures is equally enjoyable for young readers.
Investing some time for reading is the best gift we as adults can give to our children.
Check out my Instagram feed where I share about books we love reading.