Every parent knows that reading with children is crucial for their development, but how do you know which baby and toddler books are right for your child? Below are some age-based tips for selecting your baby's first books. As she grows, you can tailor your choices to match her interests. Aim to read at least a book a day.
For Newborns: Seeing Things in Black and White
If you are just starting your baby's bookshelf, it's important to remember that the act of reading is just as meaningful as whatever books you choose. Certain visuals and text will hold the attention of newborns:
- High-Contrast Images
Newborns' eyesight is a work in progress. In fact, they see best from a distance of approximately one foot, so simple, bold images hold the most appeal.
- Rhyming Text
Just by listening to your voice, newborns gain invaluable language lessons. When you read a book with basic rhymes, your infant will relish the soothing, reliable rhythm.
For Older Babies: Never Bored With Boards
By the second half of the first year, babies begin to participate actively in the reading process — first by chewing, later by pointing and babbling. Choose books to satisfy a seemingly endless amount of curiosity. Expose your child to the world through bright pictures of interesting objects.
- Board Books
These short, simple books are made of laminated cardboard pages. They should be sturdy, with rounded edges, because your baby most likely will chew them, pull them, and toss them.
- Activity Books
Play peek-a-boo. Search for hidden surprises. Touch something soft and furry. From pop-up to lift-the-flap to bath and more, activity books encourage exploration.
Toddler Books: Picture This
Even though toddlers are frequently on the move, they need books as much as babies do. Resist the urge to quiz your child on letters, colors, or numbers. Instead, choose toddler books that introduce basic themes and invite conversation.
- Picture Books
From stunning Caldecott Medal winners to dime-store classics, toddler books with pictures provide more elaborate plots and illustrations than board books do. Subjects range from ABCs to animals, feelings to favorite characters.
- Bedtime Books
You have probably already added a few bedtime toddler books to your library, but toddlers need these books more than ever. Reading a book with mom or dad before bed can serve as a great wind-down for active toddlers.
Toddlers love to explore (and sometimes chew!) books with vivid pictures and colorful illustrations. Many toddler titles are not strictly educational books, but are all about the interactive experience, such as lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel books. These types of books are great to introduce your little one to the pleasures of reading, and most have educational benefits as well. But if you’re looking for books that place a primacy on teaching your toddler, here are some places to look.
As young children learn numbers, they start counting everything in sight: bananas in a bunch, blocks in their play towers, toes on their feet. The books in our list Books as Easy as 1, 2, 3 help toddlers learn numbers through beloved characters, fanciful settings, and familiar situations. Check them out and start the countdown to early math learning!
The first step to reading is, of course, learning the all-important ABCs. Playing with letter blocks and singing the alphabet song are must-dos for ABC learning, but these educational books will captivate your toddler and set them on the path to letter recognition:
- Now I Eat My ABCs: From blueberries to grapes, noodles to watermelon, this letter-learning book is stuffed with fun, kid-friendly foods.
- Max’s ABC: Max’s ABC teaches the alphabet by featuring a different letter on each page, large and colorful so they're easy to spot. The very youngest readers will love practicing their letters with Max and Ruby.
- Colors and Shapes
Toddlers are dazzled by bright colors and bold shapes. Educational books can help them turn the dazzle into learning by identifying a circle from a square and a bright red from a royal blue. Try Little Scholastic books such as Colors and Shapes, which feature familiar objects that teach children basic information in an appealing, hands-on format.