Reading is one joy that parents can share with their child even from the first day home from the hospital. Newborns and older children alike love hearing their parents and grandparents read to them. Newborns may not be able to see the pictures clearly until their eyesight focuses more as the first few weeks of life unfold and they won’t understand the story, but they love to hear the sounds of the words. In time, they will come to associate books with pleasant time with mom and dad. Start young with baby's first library so you can create a life-long love of reading in your child.
Here are some ways to start Baby’s First Library:
- Pick an area of the house where you can set up a simple space for reading. All you really need is a comfy chair, good lighting, and a book. But you can make the space as elaborate as you like. Bring in an upholstered rocking chair or an oversized chair and a half so you can both squeeze in.
- Dedicate an area for books that will be just for your child. It can be as simple as a crate with books in it or a floor to ceiling book case with labeled shelves. Even a book basket works! The setting doesn’t matter as much as the together time you and your child will spend reading.
- Choose books for your library that are age-appropriate. You can start out with any books for the very newborn. Newborns can see black white and red most easily in their early days. So books designed for newborns often feature those colors. But you can simply choose a fairytale book or any story that has a nice flow of words. It's baby's love of your voice combined with the holding of a book that will make the time memorable even for the very tiniest of children.
- Include books you loved as a child. If you had a favorite, chances are you can still find copies of it on Ebay or at used book stores. Grab bunches of older books from tag sales where they’re likely to be a quarter to not much more than a dollar.
- Babies won’t really get into the stories of books until they are older, but even the youngest will engage with the pictures. Visit a book store and pick out books that are chunky board books with thick, stiff pages. They are designed to withstand drool and rough handling. And the stories are short enough to hold baby’s limited attention.
- Check out the Newbury and Caldecott award winners online or get the year’s new winners at your local book store. The Newbury Award is given for the best illustration in a children’s book. The Caldecott Medal is for the best children’s story. Each year several books win in each category. It’s a good place to start it if you’re not sure which titles are good. The award winners have everything a good book should—lively pictures and a fun story.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family to help stock your child’s library for birthdays and holidays. You might even keep a list of books you’d especially like to include.
- Ask teacher friends or the children’s librarian what children of your child’s age are reading these days. Keep adding one or two books at used book sales or in bargain bins at the book store.
- Read, read, read! Even if you feel like you’re only jabbering on to an infant, she is getting a lot from the experience of cuddling with you. She is also learning how books feel and look and how to hold a book. She will slowly learn that print is the written part and goes from left to right. She will learn to understand the story from the expressions in the pictures. These are all skills she will need once she enters Kindergarten. You’re giving your child a head start by showing her books are important to you from the very beginning. Don’t be surprised if you have an early reader on your hands who devours every book she can get her hands on!
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