What is free, easy to do, takes just ten minutes a day, stimulates imagination and will help your child learn how to communicate and talk? Yes, reading to your baby.
It is never to early to start. You don't even need to go and buy any books (although it is nice to have a few around). Weekly trips to your local library will soon spark an interest and a love.
But a quick look on the library shelves or in a bookstore can leave parents scratching their heads. There are so many, which are best? With World Book Day upon us we've compiled a list.
It's easy to assume that how a book looks, what the pictures are like, whether they are drawings or photographs are the important things when choosing a book for little ones.
But ones that use rhyme and repetition are important as they are crucial to get babies interested and used to our language and to tune into the patterns of the sounds.
And while we may get fed up reading Dear Zoo for the hundredth time, children love hearing the same stories over and over again. It's always good to carry a favourite book or two in your bag -- you'll never know when you might need to entertain your little one.
Bookstart is a charity that aims to provide every baby in the UK with a pack of books (usually available from your health visitor) and has a few recommendations plus we've compiled a list of some of our favourites:
- That's Not My... series of books were a big hit in our house, as a small mouse searched for his particular train/mermaid/teddy. Tactile pages and repetition meant they were chosen again and again.
- Black and white books: These simple books with black and white pictures seem to captivate tiny babies. You can buy fabric books which are lovely, ones to prop up in the cot or board books.
- Peebo: This classic by Janet Ahlberg is full of repetitive rhyme and wonderful pictures of babies going about their everyday lives.
- We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Another classic, this time with lots of swooshing and swishing and squelching, which makes for some fun, interactive reading with a little one on your lap. Wonderful illustrations too by Helen Oxenbury.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar: This book by Eric Carle has been well loved for years. The colourful illustrations charting a greedy caterpillar's life until he emerges as a butterfly is wonderful and one that will last for a few years – as they get older your child will learn the days of the week and a bit about nature too.
- Baby Faces: There are lots of books on the market showing children's faces – mine loved looking at our book, it was a definite favourite. The book highlighted here is just one of many similar ones.
- Dear Zoo: This lift-the-flap book by Rod Campbell tells the story of different pets being sent from the zoo which are totally unsuitable until... another firm favourite in our house.
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