Although some might say that reading a bedtime story to a newborn baby is completely pointless, we here at ReadingEducation.org have very much the opposite opinion.
There are a wide array of benefits to be had from reading together with your child from birth, such as improving language acquisition by as much as six months, boosting development, and ensuring your child has a solid foundation with which to begin school.
Selecting the right books for your child will help them get the most out of storytime, so to give you a helping hand in choosing the right reading materials, here are our top tips for making sure you select the best books for your toddler.
The Best Books For Babies Aged 0-6 Months
While it’s certainly true that very small babies aren’t able to follow a story, that doesn’t mean they won’t get some enjoyment (and potentially benefit) from books.
The most crucial point to remember when choosing books for babies between birth and six months of age is that their eyesight is not yet fully developed, meaning they’re unable to see degrees of shade and complex patterns properly. Therefore, opting for books with bright, bold, clear pictures is the best course of action.
In fact, some of the best-selling and most successful books for small babies contain very simple patterns, e.g., shapes or a smiley face. Although this may seem boring to the adult mind, it is absolutely perfect for your baby’s developing brain.
Mirrored books are also a superb choice as babies are often mesmerized by their own reflection. If you’ve not seen a baby looking perplexed when staring at their own reflection, you’re in for a treat when you do!
Board and cloth books are also perfect for small babies. The former is designed to stand up to rough handling and chewing, making them perfect for wander hands and mouths – plus, you can some that bath-proof too, so you can make use of them everywhere. The latter is also very popular due to their durability and the fact that many include sensory toys, accessories (such as bells and rattles), and materials. These types of books are the perfect introduction to book handling too.
While there’s certainly no harm in reading storybooks to your newborn, books that contain shapes, patterns, pictures, and a handful of words are the best choices. Simple rhymes and songs are perfect for little ones as babies naturally enjoy being sung to.
The Best Books For Babies Aged 6-12 Months
Between the ages of six and twelve months, reading becomes a far more interactive experience for your little one. They’ll no doubt want to hold books and turn pages all by themselves, so board books are always a solid choice, quite literally.
At this stage of development, your baby will have more ability to distinguish between colors and shapes. However, it’s best to still keep it simple with striking and colorful pictures rather than intricate illustrations. Stories should also remain basic, with not more than a couple of lines per page.
Rhyme and repetition should be your watchwords when choosing stories, as well as finding books that incorporate actions such as peek-a-book and clapping.
Reading aloud to your baby is a great way to introduce them to the sounds of words. If they make noises and sounds when you’re reading, encourage them to make more!
Reading should be a truly multi-sensory experience for babies, so choosing books with textured pages and perhaps even sound effects is a great way for your little ones to explore books and language using several of their senses. It’ll also keep them interested, which can be difficult at times at babies are renowned fr have poor attention spans!
Spending lots of time going out for walks? Why not grab yourself some buggy books that simply clip onto your buggy handle? Perfect entertainment for your little one when you’re on the move.
The Best Books For Toddlers Aged 12-18 Months
By the age of one, toddlers will actively take an interest in the content of their books.
Books that contain rhymes and songs (particularly action songs) are usually firm favorites. By this age, your little one will no doubt start showing their own preferences, which may involve reading the same book(s) over and over again!
If your little one has any particular preferences or interests, now is the time to buy books and reading material related to those interests. For example, my son is obsessed with tractors and diggers, so I naturally gravitated towards books related to this subject. This is particularly handy if their concentration and attention appears to wane quickly as you can soon reel them back with something they’re keen on!
You can start to move away from board and cloth books, but always supervise your toddler when looking at books as well all know many children still love to tear, rip, and chew even as they get older!
Images, pictures, and illustrations can start to get a little more complex, but it’s still best to keep them relatively simple.
If your little one is mobile, ask them to go and get books they like. They can even join in with actions, noises, and potentially even voices as they start to speak. Encourage them to join in as much as possible as this will have a positive impact on language development.
The Best Books For Toddlers Aged 12-18 Months
In the lead-up to their second birthday, you’ll be able to indulge in longer stories with your child. A classic such as Spot the Dog and The very Hungry Caterpillar were two of my son’s favorites at the age of 18 months – and I remember being fond of them when I was his age too! You can’t beat a classic story after all, can you?!
Interactive stories are, again, a fantastic option. Whether they require flap lifting, repeating words and rhymes, pulling levers, or anything else, they’re sure to be a hit with your little one.
If your toddler is a fan of certain TV shows, you can start buying books related to these. Children are more likely to pay more attention and learn from books they’re interested in, so always try to buy some books that you’ll they’ll definitely like.
Now is also a good time to start visiting local libraries. As well as having an endless supply of books at your fingertips, you’ll also be able to join reading groups, meet new friends, and open your child up to the massive world of books.
Reading from a young age increases the chances that a child will grow up loving to read, so even if you have a busy schedule and don’t have much time to spare, try to fit in as much reading as you can; your little one will really benefit from it in the future!