(Post Created January 12, 2020. Edited March 7, 2020)
Children’s books are one of my favorite tools to use to promote language and early literacy. The opportunities for learning and exposing children to different words and concepts through books are endless. A recent research study performed by Ohio State University found that children under the age of 5 who are read to at least once a day are exposed to over 200,000 more words compared to children who are rarely read to. Therefore, it is never too early to begin reading and looking at books with your baby.
Here are more reasons why reading to your children from an early age is so important.
Early exposure to books assists in:
- Establishing strong Parent-Child relationships.
- Promoting speech sound recognition and production.
- Increasing vocabulary and grammar skills.
- Supporting social-emotional development.
- Creating healthy routines.
- Building a strong foundation for reading and writing.
When selecting books for babies and toddlers, look for:
- Few illustrations with contrasting colors per page to help with visual development and attention.
- Common nouns, verbs, and adjectives to support the development of first words.
- Pop-Up & Lift the Flap Books to increase interaction and fine motor skills.
- Durable, wipeable, and textured books to allow for hand and mouth exploration.
Here is a list of my favorite books for babies and toddlers.
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First Words Lift-a-Flap Board Book, by Scarlett Wing
I have owned quite a few “First Words” books, but this is by far one of my favorites for babies and toddlers. This book is filled with words beginning with ‘b’ sounds, such as bus, bug, ball, bee, bird, boots, baby, bark, blocks. However, there are many other common words you can teach. I love how I can pair animal and environmental sounds with the pictures such as “beep, woof, meow, buzz, boing”.
Peek-A-Who? Lift-the-Flap Book, by Nina Landen
I've used this book for over 5 years in therapy, primarily with children producing limited sounds and words. My love for pairing toys with books began with this little book. The Lift-the-Flap features and little mirror on the last page truly capture children's attention. I found that the repetitive phrases and similar word endings encouraged children with limited verbalizations to produce simple sounds and syllables. The repetitive phrases and words you will find in this book are "Peek-a-Who?, Peek-a-Moo, Peek-a-Choo, Peek-a-Boo, Peek-a-You!".
That’s Not My Book Series, Usborne
I own 4 of these books and hope to acquire more! I love the variety of characters you can find in this collection. Each book uses repetitive words and phrases, providing children with multiple exposures and opportunity to practice common nouns and adjectives, such as “It’s paws are too rough, It’s tail is too fluffy, It’s bell is too shiny”. Every book in this series contains textured pages to encourage sensory exploration.
The World of Eric Carle, My First Library Board Book Set
This collection of 12 small board books follows the art style of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Each book explores different concepts such as On the Farm, Up in the Sky, At the Zoo, On the Table, First Words, and many more. I love that each page focuses on one word or concept at a time. I also own several of Eric Carle’s Bear books. I love the repetitive words and phrases found in these books. You can teach common colors, animal names, verbs, adjectives, and wh-questions.
The Very Happy Hen, by Jack Tickle
I acquired this great Peek-A-Boo Pop-Up book from a wonderful colleague. This book can be a bit lengthy for little babies and toddlers, but the illustrations and size of the Pop-Ups are sure to captivate their little eyes. When reading to your babies feel free to describe the illustrations versus reading word for word. You can talk and point to common objects, verbs, adjectives, and make sounds associated to animals and actions. Some of the wonderful words and sounds you will find in these books are “Duck-Quack!, Donkey-Hee Haw!, Cow-Moo”.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? A Book of Wonderful Noises, Dr. Seuss
It’s never too early to introduce children to the wonderful works of Dr. Seuss! They are definitely my favorite books for introducing early literacy to preschoolers and kindergarteners. But this little board book is perfect for babies and toddlers. It encourages imaginative play by asking children to imitate sounds and actions. The frequent rhymes in this book introduce children to common sounds in their environment such as “moo, buzz, pop, hoo, tick-tock, knock-knock”.
Early Literacy Resources
Here are some useful resources for parents and professionals for promoting early literacy and learning.
Books Build Connection Toolkit, American Academy of Pediatrics
Reading Books to Babies, Kids Health
Sharing Books with Toddlers, The Hanen Way
Amazing Books for Children, CDC
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite books for babies and toddlers. It would be nearly impossible to list all the books I love. Make sure to Like and Follow Me on Facebook and Instagram to see my upcoming posts on my favorite books for preschoolers and other learning resources.
Ohio State University. (2019, April 4). A 'million word gap' for children who aren't read to at home: That's how many fewer words some may hear by kindergarten. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 12, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404074947.htm
O’Keefe, Lori (2014, June). Parents who read to their children nurture more than literary skills. AAP News. Retrieved January 12, 2020 from www.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/06/24/aapnews.20140624-2/tab-article-info