Babies love books! But why are they so important? Which ones should you choose for them? And what happens if they’re sick on it?!
In this blog, Outreach Librarian Emily answers some of the most common questions she hears when chatting to families about babies and books, and recommends some great books to start your baby's reading journey off on the right foot.
“He’s a bit little for reading.”
Your baby is never too young for a book. Babies have spent their time in the womb listening to their parents talking, and they love the sound of your voice. Sharing books and nursery rhymes with them is a soothing, calming experience for both parents and babies, and helps to nurture those very special bonds in their early days.
As well as being fun, reading books and sharing rhymes is also crucial to boosting your baby’s brain power. Listening to the rhythm of the words and the tone of your voice sparks connections in your baby’s brain, and research shows that children who are read to regularly when they are 0-2 yrs are not only more likely to have better communication and literacy skills when they reach school age, but are likely to be better at subjects like maths and science too. It turns out that books are the ultimate brain booster!
“She’ll just try to eat it.”
Interacting with a book, turning the pages, and figuring out how it works, are all part of the valuable learning experience babies get from books. When they’re little (and especially when they’re teething!) one of the main ways they discover the world around them is by putting things in their mouth. That’s why books for babies are designed to be robust, and wipeable. If a baby book gets a bit chewed, it’s nothing a quick wipe can’t fix. And the learning she’s doing when she’s playing with a book is definitely worth a few wipes.
“He doesn’t really listen.”
When they get old enough to start turning pages and choosing which books they want, babies very rarely sit nicely and look at every page of a book in the right order. They turn two pages at once, they hold it upside down, they only want to look at their favourite page and they definitely don’t want to wait for you to read more than a few words before they move on. Although as an adult it can be hard to shake the habit, try not to insist that your baby starts at the first page of the book and reads it all the way to the end. Reading the same page over and over (or the same book over and over) is still teaching them lots about language and communication. Despite the fact it might drive you slightly mad, the repetition is fantastic for their learning.
The best baby books (including all the ones I mention below) only have a few words on each page. Never feel compelled to read every word. Sum up the story in a few words, or just make up whatever you like about the picture, it doesn’t matter. Your baby is still enjoying hearing your voice and engaging with the book.
Some of the Best Books for Babies:
Black and White by Emma Dodd: part of the “Amazing Baby” series.
As babies’ vision is limited in the first few months of their lives, lots of books aimed at the youngest of readers feature high contrast, black and white images with bold patterns, to engage babies and give them something to focus on. This book has the perfect combination of eye catching patterns and shapes with a simple rhyme to read alongside it, and an interactive element on the final page.
Where's Mr Dog? by Ingela Arrhenius: part of publisher Nosy Crow's "Felt Flaps" series.
The simple repetitive story in this book (and the others in the series) make this a hit with little ones. It's super interactive, as the "lift the flap" element is made of furry (hard to rip) felt, and there's a mirror at the end.
That’s Not My Bus by Fiona Watt
One of a phenomenally popular series, these books all use the same simple words combined with touch and feel elements to engage young children. They are super sturdy and robust, and little ones will love looking at them again and again.
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
This book is a classic- originally published in 1982 and still in the bestseller charts today. Each page has a flap to lift and an animal to find, but which one will be the perfect pet? The puppy of course! The simple drawings, the repetitive phrases and the opportunity to make lots of animal noises make this book understandably popular.
You can find these board books, and lots of other great books for babies, in our Children’s Library. As well as lots of books, we have puzzles and games and colouring, and your baby can have their very own library card for free.
Children of all ages are very welcome in the Library: we have a lift if you need it for your buggy, a baby change, a great coffee machine, and most importantly…. no one will tell you (or your baby) to shhhhhhh.