I've always loved books, but I before I had kids, I didn't understand why people read to infants. I saw it like giving algebra lessons to a toddler- great in theory, but getting ahead of yourself, goofball. Before Milo was even born, I had a large library of board books that I thought would be collecting dust for awhile, but I followed the advice of EVERY book/blog/parent and immediately gave reading a try. Two tiny people later, I'm a convert. Reading with the smallest is great; they love to look at pictures, get excited at the sound of their parents' voices, and can be still long enough to listen to longer stories. Reading is also a way to get in some quality time with your non-walking, non-talking, sack-of-flour baby before they're ready to really play.
Both my kids were read to nightly from the first weeks of their lives, books are still a huge part of our daily routine. Here are a few of our very favorites for the under-one crowd, tested out in our very own bedtime hour. Check these out from the library to see how your kiddo reacts, or tie up a few with a sweet ribbon for an instant baby shower gift. Happy reading!
Squishy Turtle and Friends by Roger Priddy
This cloth book is a texture-fest for babies. The front cover has crinkly cellophane sewn in, and the sensory experience continues from there. Pages about little sea creatures each have a few rhyming lines and an interactive illustration. We use Squishy Turtle with a little tummy time to make for a satisfying mid-day play time.
This book has rhyming text, gorgeous illustrations, and a large mirror on every page. The reader travels to every continent, hearing clues about a signature animal, and then sees their own face on the animal's body in the flashy, exciting mirror. This is a book that even my toddler enjoys. Family favorite!
Tana Hoben is an author I adore- I use her nonfiction in my elementary classroom, and her wordless baby books are so simple they're genius. High contrast, black and white pictures take up the entire page and absolutely captivate infant eyes. You can almost see their minds being blown. This version depicts mama animals with their babies, but she has others that literally use an entire page to show one banana. First day home from the hospital? Whip out Hoben.
This rambling, rolling bedtime story has a strange cadence that puts kids to sleep. You go on a little tour of a farm, check out all the animals, make some wild sounds, and end up whispering the last few pages as the sun goes down on the whole thing. This is slightly wordy and I definitely couldn't get through the whole thing when my son was in a more wiggly early-toddler stage, but it's perfect for the last book before bedtime when the babies are still small.
I saved my absolute favorite for last. This book is flat-out dreamy, featuring black and white illustrations highlighted with yellow. It's another with excellent cadence, rhythmically travelling from a child's bedroom to the moon and back. My husband calls it "the Smashing Pumpkins book," and I think that sums it up perfectly.
We're always discovering new favorites, but these are in heavy rotation at our house right now. What do you think? What are your favorite books for the youngest family members? I'd love to hear in the comments!