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Education Matters

Books & Babies

January 1st, 2015

By Tatiana Tilly, Manager, Dawe Branch, Red Deer Public Library

Do they go together? Even if a baby cannot really read? Yes, they do!

I still have a cherished memory when my first baby who was then 9 months old and who is now 21 year old young man, said his first word pointing to a picture in a book of children’s rhymes that I was reading to him at the time. In case you were wondering what the word was, “cat” preceded any other words in his life. Yes, he still loves cats very much. So, if you would like to know what your baby is really into, there is nothing better than sharing a book together and starting to learn about your child. What are other benefits of reading to babies? According to the experts, reading aloud:

•teaches a baby about communication

•introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colours, and shapes in a fun way

•builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills

•gives babies information about the world around them

Also, the more stories you read aloud, the more words your child will be exposed to and the better he or she will be able to talk. Hearing words helps to build a rich network of words in a baby's brain. Kids whose parents frequently talk/read to them know more words by age 2 than children who have not been read to. And kids who are read to during their early years are more likely to learn to read at the right time.

What are the best ways to share books with your babies?

•Cuddling while you read helps your baby feel safe, warm, and connected to you.

•Read with expression, pitching your voice higher or lower where it's appropriate or using different voices for different characters.

•Don't worry about following the text exactly. Stop once in a while and ask questions or make comments on the pictures or text. ("Where's the kitty? There he is! What a cute black kitty.") Your child might not be able to respond yet, but this lays the groundwork for doing so later on.

•Sing nursery rhymes, make funny animal sounds, or bounce your baby on your knee — anything that shows that reading is fun.

•Babies love — and learn from — repetition, so don't be afraid of reading the same books over and over. When you do so, repeat the same emphasis each time as you would with a familiar song.

•As your baby gets older, encourage him or her to touch the book or hold sturdier vinyl, cloth, or board books. You don't want to encourage chewing on books, but by putting them in his or her mouth, your baby is learning about them, finding out how books feel and taste — and discovering that they're not edible!

If you have more questions, you are welcome to come to some of our Baby Fun programs that we have at Red Deer Public Library and talk to our friendly staff members who have been joyfully reading to babies for years.

And here are my 10 favourite books for babies that we have at our library that you will find very fun to share with your special baby:

1. Sandra Boynton books are delightful and beloved by readers of all ages. Start with this one Moo, Baa, La La La!

2. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox

3. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

4. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers

5. All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury

6. Where’s Baby’s Belly Button? By Karen Katz

7. Hush, Little Baby by Maria Frazee

8. This Little Piggy by Jane Yolen

9. Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Eugene Field

10. The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell

Tatiana Tilly is Manager of Dawe Branch, Red Deer Public Library. For more information, visit

Tags: Books

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