Being a bookworm myself, I’d always assumed that I would in turn do my best to instill a love of books into any offspring. Having managed to hang on to two big boxes of my childhood favourites (I think one box is pretty much all Enid Blyton, which may not be considered PC these days…ah well) I anticipate the time when we can introduce Pip to reading, firstly by reading out loud to him and then letting him explore books for himself. I expected it to start happening in perhaps a few months to a year, when some sort of bedtime routine would be established: bath, story and off to sleep.
What has surprised me is the discovery that a lot of people seem to start reading to their babies from practically the moment they’re born!
According to an email I recently received from Babycentre:
“Ready, set, read! It’s never too early to start reading picture books with your baby. Even if your baby doesn’t spend too much time looking at the pages, he’ll love having you close and listening to your voice. Go for a lively rhyme to engage him, or bright pictures to catch his eye.”
Pip has already been given a few books and two in particular seem to be especially appropriate for young babies:
I can see why the bright colours, different textures and crackly pages appeal – they are basically toys in the shape of books. So could be a great way to get your baby into books…before they can understand language or, indeed, what a book is! And of course they are lots of fun in themselves too – brilliantly designed and with some beautiful illustrations.
However… one reservation I have is that reading to Pip before bed might overstimulate him. During the day is when I talk and sing to him, and generally try and engage with him as much as possible. In the evening we wind down, have a bath and a succession of feeds – this usually settles him down to a nice long(ish) sleep. When I talk to him in the evening it’s with a calm, soothing voice. I guess one solution might be to read to him during the day, and once he’s a bit older we can start the bedtime story routine in earnest.
Also, Pip isn’t really into anything toy-related yet! For example, we put him in his activity gym and he stares past all the colourful dangly bits at a shadow on the wall…
Nevertheless, early reading time seems like a good idea – pushy parents that we are – and something we’re going to start thinking about introducing. Ladybird, who have books for “every age and every stage” say that “it’s good to remember that even the youngest babies can enjoy books, those with crinkly pages and bright bold images are perfect for newborns with developing eyesight.”
What’s more, there is no excuse not to read to your baby, as within their first year, every child in England now receives a free Bookstart Baby pack from their health professional (a second pack is sent out to preschoolers). This contains three board books, tips about sharing books with your baby, recommendations for more books and a £1 book token. I’m looking forward to getting ours!
The subject of books for babies and children is a massive topic that I’m sure we’ll return to again and again as Pip and Elphie grow. In the meantime, Babycentre provide a helpful list of books for babies under 12 months as recommended by real parents. This includes a book to attach to the buggy and even a book for the bath!