A baby is coming! Time to throw a baby shower, right? Some people are crafty and make cute blankets or knit the cutest little hats and booties, and some people like to go to the baby store and coo over the tiny outfits. I am not a crafty type, and although I enjoy the tiny outfits too, really - I am a book person.
Did you know that it is never too early to start reading to a child? Okay, admittedly a baby in utero isn’t going to see the wonderful pictures but baby will still hear mom and dad’s voice and begin to associate those sounds with comfort and security. After a baby is born, reading time is cuddle time, sharing time, play time, learning time and even distraction time. Not only that, but studies show the more books that surround a baby as s/he grows; the better that child can read in school.
So what are some good books to start a new baby’s library? My pregnant sister last year got multiple copies of “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. They are both very good, but what are there beyond those classics?
Arnold Lobel book of Mother Goose” and “The Real Mother Goose” are two examples of large collections of Mother Goose rhymes. They are too much for a baby or even a toddler to handle, but are wonderful for parents to learn or remember rhymes from their own childhood. These familiar rhymes can help in everyday activities such as; playing “Pat-a-cake”, or bouncing baby on the knee to “Ride a cock horse”, or even chanting “Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John” while putting on a baby’s socks. Babies love the rhythms, and can focus on the parent’s face rather than get fussy. Other Mother Goose books such as the series by Moira Kemp are much shorter, making them appropriate to read to babies.
Ten little fingers and ten little toes” by Mem Fox. It features babies from all around the world, has nice rhymes and rhythm, and repeats how they all have fingers and toes. With every repetition it encourages parents to lovingly tickle their baby’s fingers and toes!
Where is baby’s belly button?” by Karen Katz or any of the Spot books by Eric Hill are very popular with babies.
Hurry! Hurry!” By Eve Bunting is full of brightly colored animals and has a simple story about the birth of a baby chick. It has lots of opportunities for silly noise making that both babies and toddlers love! I have found that the best part of being with children is being able to be silly with your youngster and make them laugh. This is also available as a board book that baby can play with by himself.
Fiddle-i-fee: a farmyard song for the very young” by Melissa Sweet, or “Ten little fingers” by Annie Kubler.
Sometimes new parents can be overwhelmed by the tiny new person in their lives. Throwing a baby shower gives the new parents a start. Giving books can help give them some tools for play and cuddle time, and start their child on the way to literacy.
What books are your favorites to read to babies?
(Adapted from “What makes a good baby shower book?” by Vicki Ash and Betty Carter, Horn Book Magazine, May/Jun2011, Vol. 87 Issue 3, p27-33)