What to read to babies

Now that we've discussed why we read to babies from day one, let's look at what to read to your baby.

By Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at http://NaturallyEducational.com. While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.

Now that we've discussed why we read to babies from day one, let's look at what to read to your baby.

Any book that you and your baby enjoy together is a good book to read.  Baby and toddler books that have become classics usually share certain features:

  • Colorful, high-contrast pictures: Infants see high-contrast images best and even toddlers continue to delight in bold, vivid colors.
  • Repetitive structure: Babies feel good when they can predict what comes next. That's why your older baby or toddler will demand 20 consecutive readings of the same book. Reading a book like Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? builds baby's confidence as well as his vocabulary.
  • Sound effects: Books with built-in sound effect cues, like Mr. Brown Can Moo, Barnyard Dance, or Ella Elephant Scats Like That, can facilitate parent-baby interaction with the text. In other words, they help you get silly and have fun.
  • Faces: Younger babies especially love to look at faces. Get a book with photographs of baby faces or laminate photographs of some baby friends. Describe the emotions and expressions on each baby's face.
  • Familiar concepts: Toddlers enjoy making the connection between a story and the world around them.  When my daughter was younger, she would run and get her comb every time we reached that page in Goodnight, Moon. My toddler son likes any book with an illustration of a bird because "buhrrrd" is one of his first words.
  • Rhyming text: Toddlers begin to appreciate word-play and enjoy the sounds and rhythms of rhyming text. A book of nursery rhymes, Dr. Seuss classics or, two of our favorites, Jamberry and Tumble Bumble, will delight young children and build their mental library of sounds.
  • Tactile exploration: Touch-and-feel books can make storytime a sensory experience. Look for books with a variety of textures.

And don't forget to get a nice sturdy board book since your baby may do more chewing than reading!