In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Baby Reading

Dear Annie,

Someone came into the store today looking for three books for immediate use by newborns -- a frequent question in my book department. I offered my favorite book for little ones:
I Love Colors
. It's a board book with full-page photographs of babies' faces, each with a solid-color page facing it. The pictures are pretty straightforward, but the addition of various props -- "red bow," "purple sunglasses," "yellow boa" -- give it a lovely whimsical edge. Really good for little babies. Faces they can focus on, bright colors in contrast. And the babies are a variety of ethnicities, which is refreshing. He took that and Whats on my Head?
And the third baby ended up with a high-contrast black-and-white Look Look!

Years ago, I was showing I Love Colors to a mom with a 2 month-old strapped onto her chest, facing out. As I turned the pages, first one baby foot twitched, then the other, then both legs, and eventually all four limbs. It was delightful: little baby totally engaged in book.

What were the first books Eleanor focused on? I know you did the Goodnight Moon bedtime routine (I defer to you to describe that one), but what other ways did she start on books? And Isabel (now 8 months old) -- what does she think of books? We have some form of family lore that my grandfather, Grandma Helen's dad, would hold your infant mother on his lap and read her whatever he was reading, usually the newspaper (have I heard this story with the phone book substituted in here?). This was considered cute and funny and indicative of his charming personality, but it's also something I think is central to raising a reader. Making reading part of a cozy happy interaction (baby snuggled on Grandpa's lap, listening to soothing voice) is sending the message that reading time is happy time.

Wishing you many happy times,


Books in this post:

I Love Colors

What's on my Head?

Look Look!


  1. My favorite book in this vein is Baby Talk by DK. It has photos of babies, too, which I find other babies are fascinated by, and flaps which they can use as they get older. It is published by DK Books and I like a lot of their books, but this is definitely the winner. After use by both my kids it is in pieces and it has been a hit when I give it as a gift.

  2. Yay! Books for babies! That's what I'm looking for -- Jonah, at nearly 3 months, definitely has his favorites. I think the two we like best are "I Kissed the Baby" (a gift from Annie) :), which has great black/white contrast and a singsong story and lots of opportunity for snuggling while reading (yay!), and "Dinosaur vs. Bedtime" by Bob Shea -- Jonah may not have any idea what's going on, but he sure likes all the roaring and the big red dinosaur and the anticipation before turning each page ("Dinosaur versus..."). Well, I think that's what's going on in his head, anyway. ;) Or possibly I'm the one who likes all the roaring... :)
    Love this blog -- thank you both for doing this! :)

  3. Tui, I just wrote about you and I Kissed the Baby in my next post! So, so glad you like it. I will check out Dinosaur vs. Bedtime ASAP. Thanks for reading!