Making Me Happy Now: Baby Books We Love
One of the joys of being a mom is sharing all the things you love. It’s just been in the past few weeks that Violet is more engaged in activities. It was kind of hard in those early weeks when it feels like you’re doing everything and the only response you get is crying! But suddenly she’s playing with her toys a little bit and is now listening and looking when we read books together. I’m actually reading her books with her more than I’m reading my own!
Every day I try to read a book or two during morning playtime and always a bedtime story. Reading two books a day can be a pretty tall order for a newborn. Their attention span is not great, the colorful illustrations don’t catch their developing eyes quite as much, and they can’t follow complex story lines.
Reading is so important because it develops language and helps mama and baby bond. If you’re heading to a baby shower this spring (and honestly, who isn’t?), you know books are great and easy gift. So how do you know what books to pick? What makes a good baby book?
While any book is a good book when you’re encouraging a love of reading, there are a few things you want to look out for when you’re picking out books for babies 0-6 months:
They should have a tactile element and be durable.
Babies experience the world with their hands and mouths (yup, everything goes in that mouth!) so you want to get books that can stand up to a little abuse. That’s why board books are so popular since they don’t rip or get ruined when little hands roughly turn the pages. I recently discovered the Indestructible line of books. They’re soft, simple books that can be folded, can survive rips, and can even be thrown in the wash.
You also want to look for touchable elements inside the book. Soft finger puppets, ridges and bumps, and other books with things they can feel with their little fingers will keep them engaged.
They should have more illustrations than words.
This is a good rule of thumb to keep the baby books you choose short and sweet. You don’t want a book with big paragraphs of text, no matter how sweet the story is. And while there is definitely a case for stories that teach you something, baby books don’t really need a lesson or moral. A lot of the best books just tell a story about how much mommies and daddies love their babies.
They should have repeating words or phrases.
Babies are working hard to pick up language so repetition is key. Even if they can’t stay focused for very long, repeated words and phrases will introduce them to patterns in language and help set them up for babbling and later talking. Rhymes and rhythmic text also keeps them engaged, much like music. They’re also easy for us to read to them!
Here are the baby books we love and love to give:
This sweet book uses rhymes and repeated phrases to talk about all the things babies have in common. The illustrations are really cute too; babies love seeing and hearing about other babies! Also be on the lookout for other titles by Mem Fox: her books always teach great lessons for older readers!
The classic bedtime story! It’s so popular because it’s so simple. The book is the perfect way to start baby on a bedtime routine. This was also the first book that Violet really started paying attention to because of the black-and-white illustrations.
Olivia is a little piglet with her own mind which is what makes her story so much fun. It’s also a story you can return to over and over again as baby grows. The black and white and red illustrations are also eye-catching.
This story is a bit long for babies and Violet sometimes doesn’t make it through the whole thing. To keep her engaged in the story, I always emphasize what the bunnies are saying with silly voices. Don’t forget that changing your voice for characters and emphasis make the story for babies!
This and any book that illustrates a nursery rhyme are favorite books in our baby library. Violet loves the repeated words and I get so nostalgic remembering them from my childhood. After the third read or so I have them memorized and can “sing” them to Violet when she’s fussy and it works like a charm!
Carl Goes Shopping by Alexandra Day (or any of the Carl books!)
Carl the dog was one of my favorite childhood book characters. All of his stories show Carl doing very human things like taking care of the baby, wandering around the city, celebrating his birthday. I was obsessed with Carl Goes Shopping because, duh, I’ve always loved shopping and what’s cooler than a dog that goes shopping?!? And wait, did I even tell you the best part? THERE ARE NO WORDS. Yup, these are wordless picture books with amazing illustrations. For baby, bust out your best storytelling skills or just point out what Carl is doing on each page. As Violet gets older, I can’t wait to help her and watch her tell the story with her own words (great pre-reading skill to develop!).