Start reading to your child the day he’s born – or even before he’s born. Babies can hear your voice from the womb and respond to their mother’s and father’s voices immediately at birth.
A book is a whole-body experience for a baby, as he can see them, hear them, feel them, smell them and taste them (and you’d better believe he will). Have a goodly assortment of thick-paged “board” books (they’ll stand up to drool and teething marks) for the baby to “read” himself, throw in a couple of waterproof bathtub books and NEVER quit expanding your child’s library; even though he can’t read yet he loves to listen to you, and he can understand a lot more than you probably think!
Here are a few of Millie’s Picks for the youngest set:
Sandra Boynton board books. Anything by author/illustrator (and now songwriter) Sandra Boynton is bound to be full of color, exuberance and lyrical language. These are not the stultifying “B is for Ball X is for X-ray” word units that some boring adults think children want to hear. You will find the words to Moo, Baa, La La La bouncing through your head when your youngest child is in . . . say . . . high school.
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Who’d think people would still be reading these gentle little poems? They’re as charming and lulling and memorable now as they were in the 1800s and a fine way to feel connected to previous generations of parents and children.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Again, it may seem trite, but there’s something so comforting about this dear little book that you will find yourself reading it to your baby again and again. Don’t be surprised if he can point out the wee mouse on every single page – or if you have to add “saying goodnight to everything in the room” to your bedtime ritual.
Baby Animal Friends by Phoebe Dunn – or any animal book, really. Babies LOVE to look at animals, hear you make the animal’s sound, and then make the animal sound back at you. Text is really immaterial in a book like this, but get one with photographs rather than illustrations if you can find it. That way you can point at a cow through the car window and the baby will recognize it!
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. This book will make you cry EVERY TIME YOU READ IT, but I’m sorry, you have to do it anyway. Robert Munsch is a prolific, fantastic, usually hilarious children’s author (I’m sure he’ll show up in this blog again) but this book is so tender, sweet and hopeful that it’s for the youngest children of all (and their mothers). I also have a theory that everyone makes up essentially the same tune for the song that runs through the book. A must-read.
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kundhardt is my favorite book for wee ones, but anything interactive is great. Lift that flap, spin that wheel, look in the mirror, it's all there and immediately shows the babe that an entire universe opens up with books.