Even if you’ve tried your hardest to share a love of learning, there’s a good chance your baby isn’t much of a bookworm yet. It makes sense – they are still learning what words are, after all, and dealing with their written form is a little advanced for them. Reading together when they are young can be a valuable bonding experience, though, and figuring out how to get them excited and engaged with books now can help set up good associations with reading that could help Baby out as they grow.
Keep it age appropriate
This means more than just saving the more PG-13 stories until your little one is a little less little. Babies are developmentally ready for different kinds of books at different times. The books Baby is ready for may not seem all that exciting to you – books with one or two words per page, for example – but that doesn’t mean they won’t fit their interests just right. Their eyesight has grown a lot since they were born, but bright or strongly contrasting colors still show up the best for them, and books which stick to one concept on each page can be easier for them to take in than more complicated stories. Counting books, books that identify colors, and books that identify animals can all be big hits with the coveted “less than a year old” demographic.
Play to your audience
Part of this one is covered in the last point, but you have the chance to get even more specific than designing storytime that appeals to children Baby’s age. They are an individual, and they are probably developing individual interests. If Baby has developed an interest in the family dog, pasta, or fireflies, finding a book about that interest could be a great way to hook your audience. If you’re having a hard time finding a book about Baby’s area of interest, this is also a great time to “edit” the text, since they are too young to read the book closely enough to know what you’re changing, or to remember if you read it differently the next time.
No, get really specific
Books that are professionally customized to be about Baby or the people in their life are really big right now, but you can make your own customized books by printing out pictures of Baby and the people they know well, too. One of the earliest skills picture books can teach children is how to make connections between images on the page and the versions that exist in real life, and using pictures of faces they know well and sees often, and talking about those pictures using the people’s names, can be a great way to encourage that understanding.
Get Baby involved
Like most people, Baby gets more interested in activities they can take part in, instead of just watching other people do. They are still a few years away from being able to read to you, but they can still help you out in other ways – maybe by helping to pick out the book, or by “helping” you turn the page. Cloth books or books with textures are especially good for catching Baby’s interest. Even if they isn’t quite ready to answer you yet, asking them questions about each page can be a great way to draw their attention back if it starts to wander.