Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Advice for a Budding Bibliophile

I received an email from a reader asking for advice this week, and I hope she doesn't mind me answering here.

The reader has an 8 1/2 month old son. She wonders whether our "infant bibliophile" showed interest in books at that age, and if so, what kinds of books he liked. She has been reading to her son since he was in the womb, but he doesn't seem interested in books (despite having tried reading him classic, popular titles). He tends to look away or close the book and start playing with it.

My thoughts:

First, good for you for introducing books to your son! I'm sure eventually your love of books will be contagious, and you'll be moaning that you have to read him a favorite book for the tenth time in a row. I'll share a few of our son's favorites at that age and some ideas for helping to spark your son's interest in books. But I do so with the caveat that I think you're doing a great job and that he's probably just at a stage where he wants to explore everything around him at the exclusion of sitting still.

Before I offer book recommendations, here are some general suggestions off the top of my head:
  1. Feel free to ignore the text if it is too much for him or he doesn't like it. Just point to things instead. I won't tell the author.
  2. Teach him to turn the pages if he doesn't already, and make a big deal out of him doing it; clap when he does it, etc.
  3. Choosing the right titles. I offer some specific book recommendations below. If he shows an interest in anything, like trucks or horses or dogs, try to get a book with that in it and point it out to him. This might not work until he is older, but it definitely works for us now at 20 months (that's why we read so many books with cars and trucks!). You can also read this post with 15 Suggestions for Picking the Best Children's Books for Your Little Readers
  4. Pack some small board books or cloth books in your bag to entertain him when he's a captive audience in his stroller, in waiting rooms, etc.

Book recommendations:

Our son did love books from when he was an infant (hence the blog title).  But not all books.  Certain ones would keep his interest more than others.  There are a number of well-loved, popular children's titles that our son wouldn't look at at that age, or even now.

The first books he really LOVED were probably Nina Laden's cute board book Peek-A-Who? and Open the Barn Door, a "chunky" board book with lift the flaps for farm animals.

Peek-A Who? (Board book), by Nina Laden. Peek-A-Who? has a mirror at the end (as do some of her other books), and his face would light up when he got to the mirror. To this day he kisses the mirror whenever he gets to the end of the book. We would prop it up on his quilt for tummy time so he could try to crawl toward it.

Open the Barn Door (A Chunky Book(R)), by Christopher Santoro. Open the Barn Door is a simple book about animal sounds. The flaps were difficult for him to maneuver at first, but he absolutely loved staring at it in rapt attention while we read it and did the flaps for him. I love the size of those "chunky" brand books for little hands to grasp.

Another in that size that he always liked is this ABC Board Book, which he received at his 6 month doctor's visit (thank you Reach Out and Read!).

A B C Board Book (Board book).

He also always loved large picture books like these:

My Little Word Book (My Little Books) (Board book), by Roger Priddy. He loves almost every Roger Priddy book he's seen, and Roger Priddy has written MANY books.

Big Board First 100 Words (Bright Baby) (Board book), by Roger Priddy.

Also, many children that age love "touch and feel" type books. Our son didn't like them as much as flaps, but some of his favorite touch and feel books were:

Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth Books), by Roger Priddy.

Fluffy Chick ( Cloth Books), by Roger Priddy.

Curious George at the Zoo A Touch and Feel TV Board Book (A Touch and Feel Book) (Board book), by H. A. Rey.

Lift the flap books were always a hit in our house, although I can't remember by what age he started to be able to lift the flaps -- certainly by one year.  He loved Open the Barn Door, and also:

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book (Board book), by Rod Campbell.

Kids also love to look at other babies' faces, so maybe your son would like some books with baby faces.  These are two cute (slightly sappy) ones, with babies and their moms and dads:

Mommy Loves Me (Board book), by Rachael Parfitt.

Daddy Loves Me (Hardcover), by DK Publishing.

Have other suggestions for this reader? Feel free to chime in with a comment!


Jennifer said...

I have two suggestions: boardbooks with photos; I particularly like Roberta Intrater's Baby Faces series (Eat, Play, Sleep, etc.) and Michel Blake's gorgeous boardbooks with easy-open pages. I also recommend Fiona Watt's That's not my -- series. Great tactile boardbooks. That's not my Tractor and That's not my bear are my favorites.

Quinn said...

I wanted to suggest to your reader that from everything I read about early book reading.... letting them play with the books is as important as you actually reading the book. As babies start developing I am sure that he/she wants to see what you are doing and imitate mommy/daddy not so much read but just do what you do. That is all part of the reading process. The actual words... that all comes later. I knew a boyton book by heart and would just say it out loud over and over in the car some days. Then one day, mylittle one grabed the book and mimicked me. bla blah blah, with page turns and everything. Do what feels right, even if you are telling a story out loud and you think they are not listening you might find out later that they actually heard you.