Introducing Children to Books, Part I

This post is the first in a three-part series of posts about choosing books for young children at various stages of development. All three posts will be permanently housed here: Introducing Children to Books.

Introducing my children to books was trickier than I expected. When my first child was a baby, it seemed like he was constantly eating, pooping, or sleeping. It was challenging to break into this unending, exhausting cycle. When I first sat down to read to him, he squirmed and showed absolutely no interest in books.

Introducing babies to books requires patience, persistance, and careful book seletion. It is also helpful to hold tight to the knowledge that the effort required to get your kids hooked on books is totally worth it — both for your kids and for you. Now that my kids are hooked on books, book time has become the most relaxing part of my day.

A few ideas for reading to babies…

Exaggerate intonation. While young babies cannot yet understand words, they can understand intonation.

Follow your child’s lead. If your child is excited about one part of a picture, talk about it. Feel free to reword books, make up your own words to books, and read pages in whatever order holds your baby’s interest.

Let your child see your face. Letting your child observe your facial expressions as you read can help your child stay engaged and understand the book you are reading.

Books for Discoverers & Communicators – Typically Ages 0-13 Months

“Discoverers” and “communicators” are children — typically babies ages zero to thirteen months — who do not yet understand words or are just beginning to understand what words mean. When choosing books, look for:

  • Board books and cloth books (i.e. books that babies can manipulate),
  • Clear, bold illustrations, and
  • Simple rhymes.

Fuzzy Bee and Friends by Roger Priddy. A cloth book that kids can enthusiastically touch and chew, with simple, two-sentence rhymes that sound appealing to babies. My kids loved the crinkly front cover!

Whoozit Photo Album by Manhattan Toys. With crinkly pages, a textured handle, and rings, this five-picture photo album is great for babies to play with. Fill with high contrast photos of family members.

Who Are They? By Tana Hoban. Features black-and-white images that are visually stimulating to young babies who are not yet able to see the full spectrum of colors (ages zero to four months).


Babies by Julie Aigner-Clark. Babies enjoy looking at images of babies. This book delivers. Babies is a good book to read with your baby and his or her new older sibling because it describes the basics of a young baby: “sometimes babies cry,” “babies sleep a lot,” “babies need lots of love.” Another book with wonderful images of babies is Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children.

This Little Chick by John Lawrence. Bold, woodcut illustrations and a rhyming text hold baby’s attention. A humorous story about a chick’s adventures entertain older kids and adult readers.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton. A colorful, jaunty rhyme to share with your baby. Snuggle Puppy is also a nice reminder that story time with babies should first and foremost be snuggle time.


My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. While the book’s message is aimed at older kids, your baby will enjoy the rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and front page cutouts. An excellent book to read to baby and an older sibling.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. The bold illustrations and simple rhyme will engage babies. This book is also fantastic for older children who are learning the names of colors and animals.


Time for Bed by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer. This is a long book, so do not expect to read the entire book to your baby during your first sitting. However, the simple two-sentence rhymes and simple illustrations make this an excellent choice for babies. Feel free to skip to the final page before or when your baby gets restless.

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Raschka. Playing with sounds is a valuable precursor to forming words. While I am certain that Chris Raschka did not create Charlie Parker Played Be Bop for babies, the sounds and rhythm of this book make it fun for parents and babies to read together. Parents and babies will also enjoy Raschka’s fantastic illustrations!

Best wishes in reaching the stage where you and your child both look forward to snuggling up and reading books together. May all parents and caregivers get there.

You may also be interested in:

This entry was posted in Ages 0+, Ages 1+ and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Introducing Children to Books, Part I

  1. Susan says:

    My one-year-old loves Global Babies! We picked it up at a fair trade bazaar last Christmas, and it was probably the best Christmas present he got. I love watching him respond to the photos of babies from around the world, and it’s a book he prefers looking at without my help at times.

  2. CM says:

    A friend of mine suggested the Dr. Seuss title. I will have to give that one a try with my little one.

  3. I love Chris Raschka’s books- they saved my sanity a few year ago with a tough group. I had picked up the Charlie Parker book at the library thinking one child would really like it. I had no idea the whole class would fall in love with it! We used all of them that year and I still use them. I’ve had many children over the years hear someone playing jazz and say it’s Charlie Parker! One was at a book store (about 2 and a half) where a jazz band was playing and his mom said he kept asking them ,”Play Charlie Parker?”

  4. What a great list! Thank you for sharing it at Sharing Saturday!

  5. Jackie says:

    That is a fantastic list of books for babies. Many of those are our favorites. We love that little Fuzzy Bee cloth book and several of Hoban’s books. Oh, and Time for Bed by Mem Fox, love it! I remember when my boys were babies, I read in Baby Read Aloud Basics that if your baby falls asleep while you are reading, just keep on reading. Their little brains will keep building those brain connections while they sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held a sleeping baby and read to them or recited a poem!

    • Amy says:

      There is nothing more precious than a sleeping baby. I’m sure you have wonderful, fond memories of reading those books to your children as they slept.

  6. Great list! I have read to my girls literally since they were born. When they were super little (ie. a few months old) I used to read them my textbooks just so they could hear my voice and hear language then I started to read any board book that we could get our hands on. At 4 and 2 1/2 their favourite outing is still to the library and that makes this mama smile!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, Bonnie! It makes me pretty happy to have three book-loving kids as well. My three kids are learning to speak and read at different rates, but when I see how much they love books and libraries I feel pretty calm and confident that they’ll reach those milestones in due time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s