We have heard it time and time again – reading to babies is essential in developing vocabulary and enhancing literacy development. Guess what? It is true!
But what does that experience look like? Here are some suggestions for reading experiences with babies.
First of all, just because a book is published in a board book format does not mean the text is developmentally appropriate. It is fine for the baby holding, mouthing, and experiencing, but if you are going for the reading experience, I suggest a simple picture per page with a plain background and minimal text (one sentence per page at most). Books to consider:
When reading with babies, tap on the page to direct their eyes to the picture before you read the text. You might tap on the page again after reading it.
Always follow baby’s cues. If he/she keep turning to a particular page, keep reading that page then talk about it. “What do you see?” or “Why is the baby happy?”
Really and truly, the best thing you can do to promote literacy development is ensure your baby continually hears language (from an actual person, not an electronic device) and create nurturing, positive experiences with books!
Of the list, my top 5 favorites are, but in no particular order:
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
- If you Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
- Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
- Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
What shouldn’t have made the list? Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister Sorry – it is one of my least favorite books! The illustrations are beautiful, and I know the message is meant to be positive, but it bothers me that Rainbow Fish only gave his fins away for, in my opinion, selfish reason.
Now, drum roll please ….. my top 5 picks that should have made the list but didn’t, but in no particular order. (Again, this is for books published in the last 25 years.)
- Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
- No David by David Shannon
- Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
- Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
- Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
If you haven’t read any of these, you need to check them out!
“Ladies & Gentleman! I see a song. I paint music. I hear color …. Come, listen, and let your imagination see your own song.” says the violinist illustrated in a monochromatic black. But as he begins to play, colors begin to fill the pages. Pictures begin to form and the song begins to tell a colorful story.
When I was teaching, I would read the introduction to my class, then, I would play music – different types of music. Some days it would be light classical while others, it might be slow jazz. I would ask my learners if the illustrations matched the music as I turned the pages. Did they feel the pictures were telling the story of the music they were hearing? Why or why not? I enjoyed hearing their explanations. I loved watching them feel and connect to the music.
Many times, as an extension to the book, I would provide blank paper with crayons or paint, and I would play different types of music; again, it varied day-to-day. I encouraged the children to turn the songs they were hearing, and feeling, into pictures. I wanted them to interpret the songs on to paper and make the music come alive. I loved their descriptions when I asked them to tell me about their drawings. What an amazing experience to watch the children connect to the music and “see a song”.
Robert Munsch is one of my favorite authors. Although I love the book “Love you Forever”, I always tell people it is not reflective of his other stories. I have never heard the story behind his inspiration for this particular book. Now we know – very touching.