Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reading to Baby

This blog combines knowledge from various places. There is my experience with books that Natalie and William have enjoyed, but there is also what I've read about baby development and what my Master's in Literacy Education taught me about how children learn to read and fostering a love of reading.

Coming soon ... Click here for info on reading to toddlers.  

When your child is first born, there are two categories of books to read.

Visual: One experience of books for a newborn is to look at the pictures. Pictures of other babies is a very popular recommendation. Look for big close ups of babies and toddlers making all sorts of expressions. One picture per page is best. Some great examples that Natalie's enjoyed are: Baby Talk, Global Babies, American Babies, and various titles by Margaret Miller. If you can't find this type of book, you can instead share with your baby family photographs that are nice close ups or pictures of people out of magazines. You can even make these into our own books or posters.

The second type of book you show your newborn is patterns in black and white or other highly contrasting colors. Babies find these interesting to look at. The pictures can just be strips, zig zags, or bulls-eyes. These are easy to make yourself. Or, you could share books that have black and white pictures of animals. A few examples of high contrast books are Look! Look!, I Kissed the Baby, Freight Train and books by Tana Hoban.

Auditory: The other category of book you share with your newborn are story books you actually read aloud. Reading anything aloud is beneficial because your child loves to hear your voice and will learn about language from hearing your talk to him or her. But, some choices are more enjoyable than others and some will be more useful later. We read to Natalie classic children's literature such as Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner, and Charlotte's Web. I read chapter books like those listed because I read aloud to Natalie quite often (during most of our day time nursing sessions), and these books helped me stay entertained while engaging with Natalie. Highly recommended is to read Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Twenty minutes a day of reading is what is recommended. If you purchase these books when your child is a newborn, you will start to build a library for when he or she is older.

As your baby gets older, he or she will be interested in more than just baby faces and patterns. This is a good time bring on all kinds of board books. Board books are great because they are easier for babies to manipulate, and they can learn to turn the pages much earlier than paper. Also, they are more durable to tearing and mouthing. There is a huge market for board books. You can get classic picture books such as Goodnight Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar as board books. You can also get many books intended to teach numbers, letters, shapes, or colors. While your child probably won't pick up these concepts from these books, many of them have photographs of every day items that your baby will enjoy looking at and eventually will come to recognize. A good example of this type of book is First 100 Words.

As your baby is busy exploring his or her body and its ability, less time will be spent passively looking at books you show him or her. So, try to pick books that don't have a lot of text to read, or skip the text and make your own abridged version of the story or just talk about the pictures. Remember that your child doesn't have to be looking at the book the whole time you are reading because hearing your voice is a huge part of the reading experience (again the nursery rhymes are recommended!).

A few other awesome titles not mentioned above:
  • Dinosaur vs Bedtime by Bob Shea
  • anything written by Sandra Boyton.  Green Hat, Blue Hat; Moo Ba La La La, and Hippos Go Beserk are our favorites.
  • The Big Red Barn by Margret Wise Brown
  • Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin Jr.  This is the book Natalie uses to show us she knows her body parts.
  • Most books by Eric Carle, especially the ones with bugs.
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear and other like titles by Bill Martin Jr.
  • Rosemary Wells Max and Ruby board books, such as Max Drives Away and Tea for Two
  • Rosemary Wells' Mother Goose collection also comes highly recommended
  • Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus. I loved this as a child and am delighted that it is one of Natalie's favorite bedtime reads (though it has nothing to do with bedtime).
  • Books of songs you sing, such as Five Little Pumpkins; Head Shoulders Knees and Toes; Wheels on the Bus; or If You're Happy and You Know It.
  • Big Green Monster Go Away by Edward R Emberly. It has cut outs done in a clever way that allows the monster to appear and disappear once piece at a time. It conveys the idea of the reader controlling the monster, or that the child can control his fears.
  • Trucks by Byron Barton was an early favorite for William.  There is also Planes and Boats, but he didn't like them as much.  
  • The Maisy series by Lucy Cousins.  Favorites in our house are Go, Maisy, Go; Maisy's Train; Maisy Dresses Up; but there are all pretty great.  I loved the book of opposites. 

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