Tuesday, May 15, 2012

building your baby's library: guest post from courtney @ (she always loved) larking.

Today's guest is Courtney from (she always loved) larking, and I'm so excited to share this post with you.

I think most of us in the blogging community profess our undying love for books. We're readers, we're writers, we are lovers-of-words, so a love for books comes naturally. What about our kids? We want them to love the art of the written word as much as we do. But children's books can be spendy, and working them into the budget can be hard to do. Not only that, but the selection seems endless - how do you choose?

Luckily, we've got a literacy expert on our side! Courtney is here to tell us what to look for when choosing books and ways to save money while building a library that stimulates a little reader's growing mind.

Be sure to visit Courtney's blog, she has so many wonderful things going on: her "adventures in motherhood" series, book reviews, a Monday morning mix-tape, and more. You'll probably be hooked after one post just as I was. She also just opened up her Etsy shop with fantastic accessories based on - what else - vintage books and papers!

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I'm Courtney from (she always loved) larking -- a blog I started 5 years ago to review the dozens of books I read each year and that has now morphed into a motherhood and lifestyle blog with a heavy dose of all things literary :) I have an almost-one-year-old (eep!) and recently quit my job as an English teacher and high school literacy interventionist to stay home full time with her. 

I'm so happy to be guest posting here on Boho Mama today!  Megan asked me to write about building a library for your baby or young toddler, and I can't think of a topic I'm more passionate about. Helping to shape and guide our children to become lifelong readers -- and subsequently passionate learners and explorers of the world around them -- is one of our most important tasks as parents!


At this pre-literate stage, the most important thing is to get your child interacting with books. Choose board books or ones with thick pages so your baby can turn them easily herself. Touch-and-feel books or books with lift-the-flap features are also wonderful, though you must let go of the idea that the book is "precious" and should be protected from damage. (This is sooooo hard for me -- I don't even open paperbacks all the way to prevent breaking the binding!) You want to encourage your child to be excited to pick up a book and see what's inside.

Storylines at the baby stage aren't as important -- especially because your child will probably want to turn the pages faster than you can read the print! Instead, choose stories with colorful, simple pictures that you can talk about with your child to encourage language development. Point out objects he knows and help him to recognize specific words and phrases as associated with the images you see together.


As your baby becomes a toddler, books that have predictable refrains (repeated phrases) and infectious rhyming patterns will be particularly important. These types of books foster memory skills, text interaction, and language development. It's great if you can pick titles that emphasize letter or simple word recognition, too. Expect that your toddler will ask you to read some of these books over and over and over again -- your patience will pay off big dividends later, I promise!



Above all else, however, is the importance of choosing books you love. Children "read" the reactions of their parents and caretakers, so if you truly love a book, your child will be drawn to it, too. The single most important factor for early literacy is a child seeing her parents enjoying the reading experience!

To balance the books that are developmentally appropriate with the books we love, my husband and I have come up with a routine that works for us: we encourage our daughter to play with interactive baby books all day, but we choose a special book each night for bedtime that is more "adult friendly." She's come to love the quiet time in Daddy's lap, snuggled up in her pajamas with a pacifier in, almost as much as she loves turning the pages of her board books as fast as possible and squealing when she finds a picture of a bird!

If you're looking for some titles for your baby's library, here are some ideas to start with; I tried to include a variety of titles you might not already have in your collection with a few classics thrown in, too.

Interactive Books for Babies and Young Toddlers

In My Nest
Where's Spot?
Ten Wiggly, Wriggly Caterpillars
That's Not My Dragon
Where's Baby's Belly Button?

Predictable and Rhyming Books for Older Toddlers
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Hop on Pop
Is Your Mama a Llama?
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Home for a Bunny
Jump, Frog, Jump!

Bedtime Books a Parent Can Love (our current favorites!)

Owl Moon
I Love You, Mouse
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
Symphony City
My Rhinoceros

Finding good used books is always a challenge, but here's an idea from a friend of mine: organize a book swap with the other parents in your playgroup. Every week (or on some schedule you come up with), each family brings five books along to the playdate to exchange for five different ones. (If you're worried about getting your own books back, you can always slap a label inside.) This way, you're always getting some new titles to share with your child but you don't have to worry about paying library fines if she decides she loves one so much she just has to take a bite out of it! And don't be afraid to ask your local library or elementary school about cast-offs -- books they might consider to be outdated or too "used" to keep on the shelf would be perfect for your little one to play with.



To learn more about early childhood literacy and what you can do to support your child's development as a reader, check out this pamphlet from the U.S. Department of Education with dozens of ideas! And I'd love for you to stop back to my blog with book suggestions of your own -- I'm always looking for new titles to read with my daughter and share with blog readers, too.
--
http://shealwayslovedlarking.blogspot.com
http://larking.etsy.com

4 comments:

  1. Thanks, Megan! It was really fun to write on a topic I have such a passion for. :) If your readers want easy links to find these books (as always, no profit in it for me -- just being helpful), they can stop by my blog: http://shealwayslovedlarking.blogspot.com/2012/05/guest-post-building-library-for-baby.html

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  2. These are all great suggestions. Thanks!

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  3. Wonderful post! I came across this blog after doing a Google search to see what others were doing for book-oriented baby showers. I arranged my first one for my sister-in-law who did not want a baby shower because they are eco-minded minimalists. I have since been attempting to educate family and friends about age-appropriate book buying for presents and this post is great "professional endorsement" to let them know that I'm not completely crazy. My only addition would be to not hold back buying kids books that might seem a little too old for them. It is impossible to know when children will grow to them, and not having the next step of books around can dampen enthusiasm for learning. My niece was reading the words "hop" and "pop" out of the book "Hop on Pop" starting at around 14 months of age, and it was her first book where she recognized the words on her own and matched them with the sound she had remembered from before. How dishearted she might have been if she had been stuck with the difficult multi-syballic words of her picture and interactive books until she was deemed old enough for "Hop on Pop".

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I appreciate your comments and conversation - please leave your email address when commenting so I can respond! If you want a direct response, you can also email me at meg(dot)kimmelshue@gmail.com.

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