‘But they won’t understand the story,’ you say. Doesn’t matter. At some point, they will. And the sooner you start reading, the sooner they’ll understand.
So, what are the best books?
The good news is – there’s an array of wonderful books for even the youngest of babies, so much so that choosing just one will be the challenge.
So here are my top tips for making the right choice:
1) Whatever book you choose, get the ‘board’ version.
Within what feels like five minutes, a baby will be able to pick up a book and shove it in their mouths or will display an unnatural ability to tear pages. Don’t bother will flimsy paper versions. Go for the tough-as-nails board books which will stand up to the constant gnawing and clawing.
2) Look for rhyme and repetition
One thing you quickly learn as a parent is that kids love repetition. Love it. To the point that it will nearly kill you. But my experience is, the more a book uses rhyme and repetition, the more quickly your child will be able to recite it back to you. A tremendously empowering experience for them.
3) Go for books with large, vibrant and high-contrast illustrations
In their early months, babies have limited ability to focus, therefore it’s important to buy books with pictures that have IMPACT. Black and white is particularly useful for newborns.
4) Purchase books for different settings and environments
A book is not just something to be read to a child while sitting on the couch at home. These days, you can find books specifically for bath-time (made from soft plastic) and for out-and-about (with attachments to keep them tethered to the pram).
5) Find books that provide physical engagement
For a baby, reading can be a physical as much as a mental experience. It is as much about turning pages, as it is listening to your voice. Get them involved by having a ready supply of ‘touch and feel’ books, or ‘lift the flap’ style board books, or even the ones that make sounds. Your baby will thank you for it (not really, but you know what I mean!)