Choosing the Right Books for Babies (0-18 Months Old)

by , under Child Development, Language and Reading Skills

When choosing a book for baby, keep these things in mind:

1.) Mostly pictures and brightly colored

These will help keep baby’s interest in the reading activity.  You can also point to the pictures as you read.  Point to the horse as you say “horse.”  This will help baby associate the object with the word.

2.) Texture

Babies also need opportunities for tactile sensory development.  Textured books, such as those where you can touch the animal’s fur, and lift-the-flap books are a great choices.  Books made of fabric, that have the crinkly plastic film are great for very young babies.  As your baby grows, introduce books with interactive parts, like Busy Bunny’s ABC-123 where baby matches the integrated blocks with the pictures in the book.

3.) Length of Book and Baby’s Age

I made the mistake of trying to read Where the Wild Things Are and Love You Forever to my son when he was 3 months old.  Both are longer books, and by the time I got halfway through he was angry and wanted to move on to another activity.  The expected maximum attention span of a young baby is about 5-10 minutes.  As baby grows, you will start to notice a few favorite books emerging and that he is willing to expand his attention span for those particular few.  Don’t be surprised if baby forces you to read the same book over-and-over for an excessive period of time.  He’s just letting you know he really loves this book.

4.) Repetitive sounds

Babies learn language through sound repetition.  Choose books that reinforce sound repetition.  Think: “See Spot.  See Spot run.  Spot runs fast.”

5.) Durability

Make sure the book is durable and can hold up to baby’s abuse.  Board books or books made of fabric are great for this.  Baby will put the book in his mouth, tear at the pages, bend the spine backwards, and spill things on it.  Don’t think, “I just won’t let baby touch the book,” because babies need to interact with and feel books to fully connect with them and learn from the experience of reading. They need to point to pictures and ask what they are called, be shown that you are reading from left to right along with the text, and learn to hold the book and flip through the pages.  All of this encourages reading in the future.

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