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!