Infants can’t tell us which books they enjoy. But that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from books and from reading with an adult. It does, however, raise a question. How do I pick a book for my baby? The first rule is that there are no rules. If you like the book, you will be more likely to read with a happy, expressive voice that your child will love. The most important thing is that you read to your child every day. Find a cozy spot and settle in for a cuddle. The benefits are real and enormous. As you read, you help your child build vocabulary, grow their listening skills, develop a sense of story and strengthen memory. And by demonstrating your own enjoyment of books, you pass on a love of literature, a gift that lasts forever.
Here are some ideas for selecting a great book for a baby. And remember, you don’t need to limit yourself to board books. Infants love to mouth and explore board books on their own, especially once they can sit. But when it’s your time to read with them, you can select any type of book you’d like.
Here are some Explore+Discover favorites:
Babies love singing and thankfully they don’t know if we can carry a tune. There are plenty of wonderful songbooks on the market to choose from, such as The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Nadine Bernhard Westcott; There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Tabak; and Fire Truck by Ivan Ulz. If you don’t know the song, search for a recording on the internet. The Ulz tunes are available on his CD: Songs From the Old School. It is fantastic, but there are plenty of other options as well.
Rhymes are very appealing to babies. They also help them learn language. The classics are classics for a reason. Nursery rhymes offer rich engaging language and have predictable sounds that children can easily remember. After a while, your child will know the rhymes so well they’ll finish a phrase. We especially love Salley Mavor’s Wee Willie Winkie and Jack and Jill. Any nursery rhyme books by Rosemary Wells are also great. And, of course, the Dr. Seuss books such as The Foot Book, Go Dogs Go and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? are always winners.
Babies love faces and there are plenty of books that cater to this market. Check out titles by The Global Fund for Children such as Global Babies and Carry Me. Illustrations of babies are interesting too, such as Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers.
Even very young babies love pictures of the outdoors, but these books also teach vocabulary and foster curiosity. The Eyelike Nature series on Stones, Sticks, Snow and Leaves provides a perfect example of books that are great to look at and learn from—all of which interest young children.
Just remember, if you like it then it is the right book for you and your baby. And these books are great for toddlers too. Older children will interact, ask questions and remember more.
Don’t forget to visit your local library for more ideas.
Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the Educational Director at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan that is dedicated to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Renee has more than a decade of experience in the field and holds a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College in New York. In her present position, she is helping Explore+Discover open the first of 27 New York City centers focused on children from 3 months to two years old. She can be reach at Renee@K3Learn.com.
Author: Renee Bock
Renee Bock is a dedicated early childhood educator, who is currently the educational director at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan. She has a master’s in early childhood education and more than a decade of experience in the field.