6 Books for the First 6 Months

Reading to your baby is awesome – and now at 6 months, Frances has started to get into it too. She’s interested in books as objects – something to grab and shake, she is (sometimes) interested in the illustrations and (sometimes) enjoys the sounds (rhyming is fun!). But let’s be honest here, the first 6 months are mostly about getting the habit of reading to your child and exposing him or her to language. The actual books you are reading are less important than the simple fact of reading at all. (A really good book about the benefits of reading aloud to children of all ages is The read-aloud handbook by Jim Trelease).

So with that in mind, here are 6 suggestions of books to read aloud to your infant that parents will also find enjoyable:

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. This book was a present from my Aunt Pam, a retired librarian who was a source of many good books in my childhood (may you all have such a wonderful aunt in your life!) It tells the story of a little girl who comes across a very special box of never-ending yarn and proceeds to knit everyone in her wintery town a sweater, and then sweaters for the animals, and the houses, etc. Beautiful illustrations of the town going from black and white to colorful knit!

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. When you have a kid, it’s important to establish a bedtime ritual. Ours includes reading stories of course, and this is always the last book we read every night (the other books vary). I can now repeat the story by heart (which is handy on nights when I am putting Frances to bed alone and don’t have a hand free for a book). It’s sweet book, and I can see us saying Goodnight to Frances room in the same way when she is a little older.

A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban. There are a whole series of Frances books, which of course we had to read to our Frances, but this is my favorite. I think Frances is hilarious. In this book, Frances’ baby sister Gloria (!) has arrived and Frances is not too pleased with the changes. Upon learning that her mother did not have time to buy raisins for her oatmeal or iron the dress she wants to wear for school, Frances declares: “Well. Things are not very good around here.” and runs away (after dinner of course). She runs away to under the dining room table and the way her parents deal with her is so smart – sweet and caring and not at all patronizing. I hope to parent as well as Frances’ parents do.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Chapter books are great for reading to newborns (because they aren’t looking at the pictures anyway)! I had an old copy of Winnie the Pooh (which belonged to my mom and Aunt Pam) and picked it up for us to read on a whim. It was perfect. One chapter was just the right length for bedtime and the stories were amusing (and gave me a chance to do my Eeyore voice).

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman. This is one I picked up at the library, and would make another good regular bedtime read. The naughty gorilla follows along behind the Zookeeper as he says Good Night to the animals, letting them all out. They then all follow the zookeeper home, much to his wife’s surprise! The book is light on words, which means you get a chance to explain what is happening (and when Frances gets older she’ll be able to tell us).

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegard H. Swift and Lynd Ward. This is a classic, very much in the vein of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House (which I love and really need to get out of the library). It tells the story of a real lighthouse on the Hudson River in Manhattan and how it feels when the very large George Washington Bridge is built. A good lesson in how small things (and people) can be important. I can’t wait to take Frances to the real Little Red Lighthouse some day.

Are there any books the kids in your life especially enjoy? Or that you loved as a child? We’re always looking for suggestions!

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6 Books for the First 6 Months

June Round-up

I read 8 books in June: 4 Fiction and 4 Non-fiction. 5 were on the Kindle and 3 were in print.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. This memoir of childhood in Iowa during the 1950s is Bryson at his best.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but this book totally sucked me in. Set in a world with 7 kingdoms, where some people are born with “graces”

A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie. Continuing my Miss Marple reading with this title which catches Miss Marple on vacation. (I think it goes without saying that my “getting older” role model is Miss Marple).

Nemesis by Agatha Christie. When I started this one, I realized that I had read it before, but I didn’t remember much, so I figured I’d read it again. I can honestly say that it was my least favorite Agatha Christie ever – marred by horrible off-the-cuff comments about how girls are forcing young men to rape them “these days”. Do NOT recommend. Boo, Ms. Christie.

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant. I chose this book for my book club. I like to read about historical events that happened in DC, and this book was definitely interesting for that. I certainly learned a lot about Lyndon Baines Johnson and other historical figures. I also learned a lot more about Dahl, who is one of my favorite children’s books authors, but it didn’t make me like him much. Still it was an interesting read.

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. I find the ways in which other cultures raise their children really interesting, so I enjoyed this book. This sort of thing often makes me feel better about my parenting – not necessarily because it reflects how I do things, but because it reminds me that folks around the world all raise their children differently and yet they all grow up to be productive members of their society (ie, don’t sweat the small stuff).

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie. The final book in the Miss Marple series. Glad it didn’t end with Nemesis, so I could go back to liking Miss Marple again.

Dancing with the Colonels: A Young Woman’s Adventures in Wartime Turkey by Marjorie Havreberg.
This is exactly the kind of history I love – a particular period of time (In this case WWII) seen through the eyes of an “ordinary” person. Although, perhaps it is not fair to call Havreberg ordinary. How many women, especially in those days were so independent, and had such adventures?! The book is a collection of letters from Havreberg to her family – first from DC where she served as a secretary in the office of Senator Norbeck, and then from Turkey where she worked for the War Department.

June Round-up