I am delighted to welcome Charelle Wigley to do a guest blog about books for children. Charelle is a self confessed bookaholic and has written a wonderful article showing the importance of reading to children. Please have a look at her website here: www.bookaholicmum.com.
Even as a self-confessed bookaholic, I was a bit surprised when I received a set of books as a newborn baby gift. While I was busy devouring a multitude of baby advice books, I hadn’t started thinking about reading to my baby. But now I passionately believe that babies are never too young to enjoy books. They are a fantastic form of entertainment for babies and as children get older books provide a springboard for their imagination.
Books for language development
Your newborn may not understand the stories you read aloud, but she loves to hear your voice and you are laying the foundations for her language development: the more you read to your baby the more words she will hear. Research shows that children whose parents frequently talk and/or read to them have a much bigger vocabulary by the time they are two than children who have not been read to.
If you’re anything like me, I could barely remember any of the traditional lullabies or nursery rhymes from my own childhood so an anthology or treasury of nursery rhymes is something you’ll get a lot of value from. Nursery rhymes are a great foundation for reading to your baby when she’s very tiny and she can’t interact with books as that rhythm and repetition is invaluable. Plus a beautiful anthology is something that you may want to pass onto your child when she’s older.
Books for visual development
You can also use books to stimulate your baby’s sense of sight. Very young babies find it much easier to focus on high contrast black, white and red images and there are plenty of such books on the market. Like most things you buy for your baby at this age, they’ll quickly grow out of them, so books that will grow with her are a better buy.
You can get double-sided cot/pram-books which folds out concertina style and can be spread out in the pram, attached to the cot or playpen or laid out on the floor – either flat or upright. One side has bold black, white and red pictures and shapes, and the other side introduces more colourful, complex imagery as well as some touchy-feely interactive elements so you can swap it over when your baby is about 3 months old.
Books for tactile development
As your baby gets a bit older and gets to the grabbing and touching stage you can introduce more tactile books. Fabric books are a good choice as you don’t need to worry about your baby putting this in her mouth so much, but sturdy vinyl books – often sold as bath books – also work. Look out for interactive features that give added value – such as squeakers, different kinds of fabric/texture, mirrors and flaps. Allowing babies to ‘play’ without books without worrying about pages getting ripped or swallowed is a great way to build a familiarity with books. I think it’s a great idea to mix books in with other toys and you can also get a great choice of buggy books that fasten onto the pushchair which are great for entertaining your baby on buses/trains, in queues etc.
On that note, I think books can be enjoyed any time in any place. While bedtime stories are indeed wonderful and a ritual every mum and dad should establish, the interactive features of many books for babies and toddlers make them ideal for playtime as well. And finding room for a book or two in your change bag or buggy can help cam or entertain a baby while you’re out and about.