But. . . reading to a baby can be hard! And for an active baby -- especially in the 6month+ range, where everything goes in the mouth -- books aren't exactly the best toys, unless you want your autographed Kevin Henkes book ripped to shreds and the cover chewed up. When Sus was brand new, I'd read to her on her changing table -- the bookcase was right there by us and I could choose book after book. Now I've switched to strictly board books (we try a paper one every once in a while, but as of yesterday she still wasn't ready), and I thought I'd share some practical tips for reading to a little booky-monster.
1. Be realistic. It's ok if you can only get through a couple pages. Of course, it's good to build on this, but by choosing short and simple board books that take less than a minute to read, you can set a practical reading goal for your baby. Mamas-of-babies might try to read The Velveteen Rabbit because it was a gift from great-grandma and then get frustrated and think "my baby doesn't like to be read to". Here are some types of books I like:
- Board books with all the words on one page -- sometimes it makes it easier, because I can look at one side and let her play with the other
- Board books with a whole thought/story/poem per page -- keeps your sanity! You actually read something whole, not "Spot went to the. . . " over and over.
- Board books with large illustrations -- some even take up a whole page (another reason I like the words to be on one side: that way the pictures can be bigger
3. Make it interactive. It's more than reading with expression, doing voices, etc. I had that down reading to bigger kids. For a baby, I point to parts of the pictures (she usually follows suit and touches what I touch -- this is all good learning), and I try to touch the picture that goes with what I'm reading. I make the lions in Daniel's den roar (softly) to catch her attention (it doesn't scare her). I say "Ooooooooooooh. . . the baby. . . look, he's so cute. . . " and slowly pet the picture over and over to to convey what I think of that cute picture. She doesn't have words to tell me what she thinks of the cute picture, but she can touch it and make sounds like me. In this way, she is interacting with the book.
4. Have a routine and build it up. Our bedtime reading time has really extended and improved since even just a month or so ago. I read from Baby's Hug-a-Bible (read my review by clicking the link -- I love it!) to her each night at bedtime. I've recently found that if we snuggle up and I hold the book pretty close to us (not on my lap like I was doing), the picture fills more of her field of vision, and she's not distracted to look at other things. That may not always work, but for now, she's had extended attentive listening time this way. Of course, it's nice to have spontaneous reading times whenever your baby picks up a book, but it's wonderful to have a storytime before bed and enjoy a wonderful routine. I choose to read a God-centered book because this is the beginning of our devotional time together. As time goes on, we can read storybook Bibles and then just the actual Bible. But for now, I am teaching her that this time is special, and this book is wonderful.
Please share your tips on reading to a baby! Have you had success with reading paper-page books? If so, please share how you do that without communicating that books aren't for touching -- I just can't figure that out!