“As soon as an infant can sit on a caregiver’s lap, the child can learn to associate the act of reading with a sense of being loved.” -- Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid
It’s never too early to begin reading to your baby. The language of books is different than how we speak; when you read to them, they hear the rhythm and cadence of a written story, associate it with art and images, and discover the magic of books. Babies also learn to associate books with a warm, cuddly, intimate time of attention and wonder.
Reading to your baby can happen anytime. It provides a great baby distraction while riding the subway or standing in line at the supermarket. But it’s also wonderful to establish routines that go along with reading. The obvious time to pick up a book is before bed, but try reading during lunch if you are home together, or any other time you want to relax and cuddle.
There are so many wonderful book options for kids of all ages, including the youngest baby and toddler. The selection of board books is astounding. A book that rhymes is great -- babies and toddlers love to play with language, and this sets them up with great beginning reading skills. Early readers also enjoy themes about things they love: families, home, pets. They appreciate crazy illustrations and wild, imaginative art, and books that make you interact -- like guessing what comes next -- create excitement. But, truly, you can read from anything: the cookbook while making dinner, the note from your neighbor, your grocery list.
Besides the classics we all love, there are some new titles that are pushing the boundaries of baby books in interesting ways. Two companies even make board books inspired by classic literature. Babylit has wonderful graphics and uses themes like numbers to make counting books out of classics like Moby Dick, while Cozy Classics introduces classic story lines in the simplest way possible. Go ahead, let your baby chew on some Pride and Prejudice.
Here are a few more fun new books on the market:
The Conductor by Laetitia Devernay. This is a wordless picture book with beautiful illustrations. It is fun to make up the story you imagine and play with possibilities with this gorgeous tale.
Put On Your Shoes! by Dan Stiles. This one is for toddlers and parents. We feel the frustration of trying to get a kid to put on their shoes, but the excuses are funny and outrageous.
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood. A sweet book that examines all the different kinds of quiet. You and your baby will enjoy thinking of more together.
You Are My Baby Farm by Lorena Siminovich from Petit Collage. A good vocabulary builder, and what toddler doesn’t love matching up mommy and baby animals?
Extreme Opposites by Max Dalton. Awesome graphic illustrations and more fun playing with language.
Press Here by Herve Tullet. Take your baby on this imagination journey, it will really open doors.
Does your baby have a big sib? Check out Kyla Ryman's Home Grown Books for eco-friendly options for beginning readers.
Illustration by Ideal Bookshelf.