Babies love books. I know this seems like an oxymoron since babies can't read but there are many ways a baby's attention can be captured by a book.
I have always thought, if I were ever to become a writer, I would write books for this age group. I love how books for babies are colourful and interactive, with simple language or rhyming words. They can also have photos or tell the story of a bedtime lullaby.
The special thing about books for the very young is that they create a moment in which parent and baby can bond.
There are several types of books that are best for capturing a baby's attention: books with a simple rhyme or lullaby, books that encourage interaction and books full of colour or photographs.
Rhyming books are my favourite. They often have a lovely rhythm to them, reminiscent of a song.
Jamberry by Bruce Degen reads like a song and tells a story about berries: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries. It also has great, colourful pictures that babies like to look at.
Jiggle Joggle Jee! by Laura E. Richards is full of rhyming, nonsense words. This is a fun one to read aloud - almost a tongue twister.
A book that I like to read at my baby storytimes is Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?, a classic by Eric Carle that is a must for a baby book library. It's great for when your little one is starting to learn colours and the names of animals because each page illustrates an animal in a different colour.
Interactive books allow time for bonding between you and your baby. Counting Kisses by Karen Katz is a good one because you can touch and kiss your little baby's hands, feet, toes and nose as you read. For example, "Five quick kisses on an itty bitty nose."
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush by Sophie Fatus is a versatile book; it is good for any age, from birth to six years. It comes with a CD sung by Fred Penner that you can use to act out the story.
The Usborne Touchy-Feely series has stories that are illustrated with different textures your baby can feel. Babies learn by exploring their environment through touch and with their mouths. These types of books are ideal for little fingers because they are small and don't damage easily. (Actually, if you see your baby chewing on a book, this is considered his/her first literacy skill.)
Books with bright, vibrant colours or with black-and-white illustrations are specifically designed for babies. As a child's eyes are developing, this contrast in colour can be easier for a baby to see. I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy is a perfect example of this type of book. Gallop by Rufus Butler Seder has black and white pictures that move as you turn the page. This is a very innovative invention and a good addition to your baby's book collection.
Books with photographs of real people are another good choice. Little ones are drawn to things that are familiar to them because they can relate to them. A good book in this category is My Baby and Me by Lynn Reiser.
A baby book library is not complete without a soothing bedtime story. Loving bedtime books are perfect to read because the sound of your voice can help calm your baby and make her/him feel safe. Sleepytime Rhyme by Remy Charlip is a favourite of mine, as is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I also like Mrs. Moon Lullabies for Bedtime by Clare Beaton. It has a collection of 20 lullabies and bedtime poems and comes with a CD.
I hope I have convinced you that babies do indeed love books. They like to touch them, they like to chew them, they like to play with them. Having books in your home is the first step on your baby's journey towards becoming a literate adult. Books help to slowly build your child's attention span, preparing them for reading and writing in the future.
And if nothing else, they are a wonderful way for you and your baby to spend time together.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Anna Chabada works at Port Coquitlam's Terry Fox Library.