The Best Books for Babies
When my daughter was born we were treated to two great big bags of books.
These were new to me and I thought, from the look of them, they were books to save for later.
But my aunt and my mum-of-three friend who bought them assured me, we could start reading them almost straight away.
To my great surprise they were right!
Obviously, I am not suggesting that she ‘understood’ at that age but she definitely enjoyed them. She would focus, listen and smile. This certainly wasn’t true – until much later – for a lot of other books she was bought that seemed to be of a similar complexity.
What’s the secret of a great book a baby will love?
Well I think it’s very simple – totally brilliant rhythm and rhyme.
Babies and toddlers just seem to have an instinctive sense and enjoyment of both, which is why they love nursery rhymes. This sense gives them access to stories that their language skills on their own can’t.
Early access is incredibly valuable because it exposes babies and toddlers to a gloriously rich vocabulary at a time that they are hard wired to absorb and explore language.
In turn, it exposes them to the pure joy of language.
Both Julia Donaldson and Lynley Dodd – the author of Hairy Maclary – delight in English and make use of all sorts of wonderful and unusual words that young children wouldn’t be exposed to in their everyday lives.
Both sets of books do have lovely illustrations, but from my experience, babies and toddlers will delight in these books even without the pictures.
This in itself is of great value because it builds strong aural skills that children really need in their later development.
They’re also enjoyable for adults to read
Or the latest fabulous creations of Julia Donaldson’s imagination: Sharing a Shell, What the Ladybug Heard and Monkey Puzzle were just a few of our early faves – and this pleasure shines through when you’re telling the stories.
There really is no better way to sell to children the pleasure of reading, than for them to see us enjoying their books!
Of course there are other books…
Of course, I am not suggesting these are the only types of books of babies should have. We loved very tactile books such as the That’s Not My series and lift the flap classics such as Rod Campbell’s Dear Zoo.
My daughter also adored Emily Gravett’s very simple jiving rhyme Monkey and Me so much that some of her first words – recited on loop in perfect rhythm – were “Minkey an Me, Minkey an Me”.
But reading great books to kids is the best!
Ultimately, it is my belief that if we stick to very simple tactile and visual books, we are denying our children access to the wonders of language. Wonders that through their mastery of rhythm and rhyme, authors such as Julia Donaldson and Lynley Dodd, have opened up to even the youngest child.