Read to a newborn baby? YES! It may seem too early, but reading to an infant is the beginning of a lifetime of your child loving books and establishes a reading routine for your family. A baby doesn’t understand the words you read, but he or she feels safe in your loving arms, hearing the familiar sound of your voice, and receiving your undivided attention.
Read anything! In the earliest days of infancy, you can read anything to your baby. The sound of your voice is what is important, not the content of what you are reading. Sing-songy, rhyming text will grab your baby’s attention. Of course, if your baby isn’t in the mood to listen and is fussy, try again later. When a baby is older and more aware of what is around him and can hold objects, he’s ready for children’s books that relate to his world and introduce words and concepts in a fun way.
Start collecting books for your home library, even before your baby is born. Board books are a great type of book to start with because their cardboard construction makes them sturdy enough to stand up to a baby holding them, dropping them, turning the pages, and even chewing on them. You can buy board books at your favorite bookstore, or choose free, “gently-used” board books from a Bright Red Bookshelf in your neighborhood. Sign up for a library card especially for your baby and start checking out board books from your neighborhood library.
Look for books that have lots of rhythm and rhyme and pictures that show recognizable objects and faces of people. You’ll want to avoid board books with too much text or ones where the pictures are too small. This happens when a larger format book for older children is printed into a board book. Your favorite childhood book may look cute as a small board book, but your baby will lose interest if the book wasn’t meant for a young child.
Keep it fun! When reading to your baby, you may not want to read all the words in the book, or even look at all the pages. Looking at the pictures, asking questions or pointing things out is another way to share books with your child. Most important is to enjoy your time together!
Fifteen Favorite Board Books for Baby (Use this list for your own family and for gift ideas for the next baby shower you attend!)
- “Hug” by Jez Alborough
- “Ten, Nine, Eight” by Molly Bang
- “Snoozers” by Sandra Boynton
- “Tumble Bumble” by Felicia Bond
- “Freight Train” by Donald Crews
- “Color Farm” by Lois Ehlert
- “Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes” by Judy Hindley
- “Counting Kisses” by Karen Katz
- “Peek-a-Boo” by Roberta Grobel Intrater
- “Ten Little Fingers,” Annie Kubler
- “Chicka Chicka ABC” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
- “I Spy Little Animals” by Jean Marzollo
- “Guess How Much I Love You?” by Sam McBratney
- “Say Goodnight” by Helen Oxenbury
- “Have You Seen My Duckling?” by Nancy Tafuri
Books for Grown-Ups about Reading Aloud
- “Baby Read-Aloud Basics” by Caroline Blakemore and Barbara Ramirez
- “Great Books for Babies and Toddlers: More Than 500 Recommended Books for Your Child’s First Three Years” by Kathleen Odean
- “Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Choosing and Loving Books Together” by Susan Straub and KJ Dell’Antonia