As I anticipate the birth of my second child, my thoughts once again turn to books for babies. As librarians are well aware, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents read to their children beginning in early infancy. A recently published study, Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Bookreading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes was presented in 2017 at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, and reaffirmed the benefits of this practice. The abstract stated “reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills.” ALSC’s fantastic campaign Babies Need Words Every Day helps to bring this message to libraries around the country. At my library, we have all the posters hanging in our public restrooms, and routinely use the talking points in our Baby Laptime programs.
Yet despite all the great messaging around reading to infants, some parents still feel uncomfortable reading to their newborns. I’ve had more than one person tell me it “seems silly” because their baby is “clearly not paying attention.” At our library, we keep board books in easily accessible bins and encourage parents to check them out and take them home, but our greatest opportunity to influence reading at home comes through demonstrating how books can be engaging for young infants during baby lapsit programs. Tried and true classics include:
Anything that requires parents to make animal noises, such as Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Doctor Seuss and Does a Cow Say Boo? by Judy Hindley.
Books that rhyme, such as Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boyton.
Books that ask parents to point to and move different body parts on their babies, such as From Head to Toe by Eric Carle and Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson.
What are your favorite books for baby lapsit programs? How do you encourage parents to read to their young infants, especially if they think it seems silly?