We asked Wendy Cooling, consultant to Campbell Books who has spent a lifetime promoting literacy and children’s books, a few questions about reading with babies.
How early should you start reading to babies?
It is never too soon to read to your baby. Lots of Mums-to-be read to their babies in the womb. Once baby is born there is nothing that gives more pleasure to baby and adult – remember Dads like to read too – than sharing a board or picture book.
What are the benefits of reading to babies from an early age?
Pleasure is really important but there are other benefits too :
- The warm cosiness of sharing a book with a baby on your knee helps bonding.
- Babies love to hear the voices of those they love and trust most and soon develop a feeling for words, rhyme and rhythm. The sounds are important long before the baby really understands the words.
- Books from the very beginning are the start of a life-long reading journey.
- Sharing books as baby grows up will help you keep in touch with your child’s reading development.
- Babies are learning to look and listen and soon want to join in with the reading – don’t expect reading time to be quiet time.
Any suggestions on what you can do if your baby/toddler isn’t showing any interest in books?
Read to your baby at any time not just at bedtime. Choose a time when baby is calm and choose books that invite interaction. Babies soon try to turn the pages, lift flaps and press buttons. Turn the page when the baby is ready, respond to pointings and gurglings – laugh together. Even look at a book on your own and let baby see your obvious pleasure and soon he/she will want to be involved. Don’t try to do too much offer to finish the book another time if baby seems to be bored. Sometimes 5 minutes is enough don’t push your baby to do more than she/he’s ready for.
How can parents make sure they incorporate reading into a baby’s/toddlers routine?
Regular bits of reading as well as a story at bedtime will soon establish reading as a natural part of the day. Be sure to have cloth books in the cot, books that have a scrunchy sound when played with. Don’t forget to attach a ‘buggy book’ when you go out - and talk to baby about it as well as the things around you as you take your walk. Soon books will be part of your baby’s world.
What are your top five favourite books for babies?
Five great books for babies:
- Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell – the perfect lift-the-flap book – loved and repaired by endless families. And there’s Dear Santa for Christmas time.
- Faces and Farm are soft, scrunchy cloth books really good for the very youngest babies.
- Red, Blue, Peekaboo and Peekaboo¬ Who are you? - these books really make early reading fun as no child can resist the game loved by children all around the world.
- Colours – this bright board book is a delight and is exciting to touch – call it ‘the bumpy book’ and talk about colours as you go along.
- Charlie Chick by Nick Denchfield and Ant Parker – a book for babies and toddlers with wonderful pop-up pages and a surprise at the end
… and if you want one more choose a buggy book that can go with you everywhere.
Sharing and talking about books with babies and toddlers is an important step in their journey to becoming life-long readers. There is no better place to start on this journey than with Campbell Books.
Campbell is a specialist maker of books for babies and toddlers that parents, grandparents and friends can buy with confidence, in the certain knowledge that children will love and want to read them again and again. They believe that good books always start with the child. Their books have a child-centred sense of fun and are softly educational – they connect to a child’s world and the bustle and warmth of family life.
Campbell Books will be on stand F30 at Baby To Toddler.