It’s never too early to start reading with kids. I read Ameya (my youngest boy) his first book last week, when he turned 3 months old. We read a lovely book called Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton. Siddhant picked this one out for Ameya because it used to be his favorite book for the longest time. I think my baby liked it…he stared at the pages and smiled as i read. Since then, we have been regularly looking at Moo Baa La La La as well as a couple of bath books.
By default, Ameya gets read to all the time. Right from when I was carrying him, he has been exposed to a range of kids’ books because my twins really enjoy reading. While Siddhant likes to sit with a book and have me read to him before bed, Nishant wants to read all day. I started reading to them when they were about 3 months old too and it is interesting to note how many of their pictures indoor are with books.
I started with a few Sandra Boynton books – Moo Baa La La La, What’s wrong little Pookie?, Belly Button Book. Till the boys were about 9 months old, Moo Baa was their absolute favorite. Boynton has a very fun and simple style of writing and the illustrations are adorable.
The boys also loved Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see? and Polar Bear Polar Bear What do you hear – by Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. These books went everywhere with us! They are again – simple, repetitive and therefore predictable with absolutely stunning illustrations. Also a great way to introduce kids to a lot of animals. In fact, I found them really useful because the kids were seeing some of the birds and animals around them and they would immediately make connections to the books! My twins also loved books that provided a sensory experience – so, books with textures, sound, colors.
If you are planning to read with you kids, be prepared to read the same book over and over and over again, over days, weeks and sometimes even months. I found that my boys loved to read the same books till they had almost ‘mastered’ them. What is wonderful though, is that they continue to be excited, amused and fascinated by the story even though it may be the hundredth time we are reading it.
I don’t just read the story out to them. We spend a lot of time looking at images, meta-text, guessing, retelling. I did this because i enjoyed it but i realized how much the boys were getting when we saw an Eric Carle book at a friend’s place and the boys looked at the artwork and immediately said – “capertiller!!!” (referring to the Very Hungry Caterpillar). Nishant makes connections across books, connections between text and the real world and vice versa. It is fascinating to watch.
We have turned reading into almost a ritual…and it is funny to see how much the twins value this ritual. We have reading cushions in their room. So before we start, we prop the cushions up against the wall and sit down on the mattress leaning against our cushions. Then the boys get up and pick out what they want to read from the book tray. I usually sit in the middle and hold the book so both the boys can see. I started out with board books because i wanted my boys to be able to handle the books. So they would hold them, try to flip the pages, and sometimes drool on them and chew them. I never said NO to any of this because i wanted books to be something they found accessible, fun and theirs! I would (and still do) read and re-read and then re-read again as many times as they wanted me to. Soon they would finish my sentences for me. And then, when they were playing by themselves, they would pick out the book and ‘read it’ to themselves, often adding their own bits.
It’s not like all kids want to read. While Nishant absolutely loves books and can spend big chunks of time being read to, Siddhant gets easily distracted and prefers quicker, shorter reading sessions. He sometimes wanders off in the middle of a read aloud, or says “all done!” and shuts the book. I try to continue reading if he is within earshot or in the room and will try to engage him by asking questions. I don’t want to force him because i would like to keep reading a fun activity that the boys enjoy.
I am putting down a list of some books my kids love. They are currently 23 months old so some of the books in this list may not work for very small babies:
- Moo Baa La La La Sandra Boynton
- Barnyard Bath Sandra Boynton
- Hippos go berserk Sandra Boyton
- Belly Button Book Sandra Boyton
- Pookie books Sandra Boynton
- The Going to Bed Book Sandra Boynton
- Polar Bear Polar Bear Eric Carle
- Brown Bear Brown Bear Eric Carle
- From Head to Toe Eric Carle
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar Carle
- Draw me a star Eric Carle
- The very grouchy ladybug Carle
- The Wheels on the Bus (raffi)
- Five little ducks (raffi)
- One fish Two fish Dr. Seuss
- The Foot book Dr. Seuss
- Hop on Pop Dr. Seuss
- Cave Baby Julia Donaldson
- Gruffalo Julia Donaldson
- Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown
- The Runaway Bunny Margaret Wise Brown
- Peek-a boo I Love You
- Peek-a-boo Sleepy Baby
- Squishy Turtle and Friends Roger Priddy (cloth book with textures)
- Fuzzy Bee and Friends Roger Priddy (cloth books with textures)
- Little Blue Truck Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry
- Where the wild things are Maurice Sendak
- Happy in my nappy
- My new baby Rachel Fuller
- Head, shoulder, knees and toes Annie Kubler
This is just a list to get you started. I will also start doing book reviews with reading suggestions and activities for this list.