In Our Bookshelf

“More, more…moreeeee’ these are the words heard one too many times before attempting to put our last book down.

Ever since Alessia was a little baby, probably towards the end of the newborn phase when I could see straight again, we have loved reading books together. Whilst she was too young to understand what the pictures meant at the time, she was able to focus on the different colours, contrasts and patterns throughout. I also found that reading nursery rhymes or singing them aloud was quite soothing and comforting for her. The entire process of cuddling up and reading together was also a beautiful bonding opportunity for my husband which I know he enjoyed after missing her all day at work (not to mention it gave me some much needed time to myself).

Reading very quickly became our favourite activity and a huge part of our “play time” within our feed, play, sleep routine. Keeping to this consistently really helped Alessia’s sleep which in end allowed us both to function better throughout the day.. But that’s a topic for another time.

The best time to read with her was when she was fed and dry, so we did this towards the end of our ‘play time’ as a way to wind down before her next sleep. And since babies love repetition, we started with simple books that often rhymed or had repetitive text. These are some examples:

  • Ten little fingers and Ten little toes by Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury
  • You… by Emma Dodd
  • Wish by Emma Dodd
  • Hello Baby! By Mem Fox
  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
  • The Usborne Nursery Rhymes Picture Book

Over time we noticed that she was able to pay attention for longer periods and became increasingly interested in grabbing things. At this stage we explored board books (to make it easier for her to turn pages) with familiar objects and animals. She also loved books which allowed her to interact such as those beautiful lift the flap books. Some of our favourites included:

  • Noni the Pony by Alison Lester
  • I love my daddy  and I love my mummy books by Giles Andrae & Emma Dodd
  • Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox & Patricia Mullins
  • Where is the green Sheep? By Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
  • A Lullaby for Little One by Dawn Casey

Our favourite Interactive books included various touch and feel books with different textures, as well as the Lift the flap books for an element of surprise (especially those with mirrors):

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see by Bill Martin Jr & Eric Carle
  • Dear Zoo, and Oh Dear! By Rod Campbell
  • Where’s Mr/Mrs series of Felt Flap books by Ingela Arrhenius

More recently (towards 18 months of age), when she began talking a lot more, we looked to books that allowed her to repeat simple words or phrases. She began showing an interest in describing everything on the pages – so sometimes we don’t worry about reading the entire book, or reading out the exact text (we improvise A LOT) and just describe the images on each page.

She also really enjoys books she can relate too or those that have familiar images. For fathers day, I customized a book for daddy, and incorporated photos of them carrying out various activities together. I cannot express to you enough how much she has loved this book, most likely because of the familiarity of seeing herself, her dad and activities she does regularly.

I’m a strong believer in child-led play, and so we scatter books throughout the house, allowing her to walk over to her box of toys and pick out a book at any time if she wishes. I have definitely noticed the benefits in reading so regularly and consistently with her. Not only does she love it, but it has provided her with the tools to express herself, and she continues to show an interest in exploring different books so its definitely a path we will continue on!

A few of  our ‘on repeat’ books currently include:

  • Peepo! By Janet & Allan Ahlberg (this has been a strong favourite for the longest time)
  • What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson
  • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  • Anything with Peppa Pig in it…

I’ve recently started introducing books that might help her understand feelings and adjust to some upcoming changes including the transition out of her cot and into her big girl bed; along with becoming a big sister and welcoming a new baby into the family! I’m hoping this will be helpful, but I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes…

  • Mr Panda’s feelings by Steve Antony
  • In My Heart, A book of feelings by Jo Witek
  • Hello in There! A big sister’s book of waiting by Jo Witek
  • Princess Polly’s My Big Girl Bed.

Alessia has also really enjoyed attending ‘baby time’ or ‘story time’ at our local library. This allows us to get out of the house because god knows we need a change of scenery sometimes, and gives her a chance to interact with books in a more social environment, sing songs, and learn about the concept of borrowing and returning books.

I hope this has been helpful as to which books are useful for different stages, these are just some recommendations based on what we loved. Just remember to enjoy snuggling up together and take in the bonding time that reading brings.

There are some more great tips on reading with your babies from the raising children website.

The customised book ( I Love My Daddy) was from JJ Gift Books .