Everyone talks about how important it is to read to your baby (even in utero!), but for new parents, knowing what to read and why to read it can be overwhelming. In this series, we’ll discuss age-appropriate literacy skills and corresponding book selections for infants (birth to age 1), toddlers (ages 1-3), and preschoolers (ages 3-4).
It may seem funny to imagine babies reading and talking, but their language and literacy skills are developing from the day that they are born. During infancy, it’s not important to “teach” your baby so much as it is to provide a literacy-rich environment and foster communication in your daily interactions. If you’re reading, singing, talking, and listening to your baby intently when they sound those adorable coo’s, then you’re giving your infant a head start to basic literacy.
As far as books go, the best books for babies showcase simple words, repetitive sounds, and engaging pictures (as well as cloth or cardboard pages for little hands that can’t control ripping pages!). If they include a multi-sensory experience, like different textures to touch, then that’s even better. Here are some of our favorites:
- Spots and Dots: Black and white contrasting images work great for newborn babies because the retina is not fully developed. This board book features beautiful black and white patterns, but it doesn’t have words. That’s okay! It’s a great chance for caregivers to just practice engaging in natural conversation about things in baby’s environment.
- Hello, Animals! A slight progression from a plain black and white book, Hello, Animals! features a splash of color on each page via a piece of shiny foil. It also contains some basic first words for babies to begin learning the names of animals.
- Peek-A-Boo Forest: An adorable, colorful cloth book featuring ear-pleasing rhymes, this book is great to introduce to babies between 4-6 months. They’ll love practicing turning the pages and opening the flaps that show hidden gems of art. It also provides tactile stimulation thanks to the various textures of smoothness and softness on the animals.
- If I were a Hedgehog: A book in the Jellycat board book series, this is an excellent choice for babies beginning around 8 months of age. Note: if hedgehogs aren’t your animal of choice, the series has over 20 animals to choose from! The books offer several textures for babies to interact with, and its sentence structures are simple enough for babies to begin learning a basic sequencing of words.
- Baby’s Very First Touchy Feely Musical Play Book: As babies near the one-year milestone and are more aware of their surroundings, they’ll love books that are a bit “busier”. This board book features a side musical panel that plays gentle sounds and songs, and the buttons are perfect for little fingers to push. Note that this book only includes basic vocabulary words, which is a great opportunity to engage the imagination and creative expression by talking about the pictures.
What are some of your favorite books for babies? We’re always looking for new great ideas in our daycare center, so we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!