Making picture books fun for your 6-month old

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 – he is still learning what words are, after all, and dealing with their written form is a little advanced for him. Reading together when he is young can be a valuable bonding experience, though, and figuring out how to get him excited and engaged with books now can help set up good associations with reading that could help Baby out as he grows.

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 his interests just right. His eyesight has grown a lot since he was born, but bright or strongly contrasting colors still show up the best for him, and books which stick to one concept on each page can be easier for him 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. He is an individual, and he is 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 he is 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 his life are really big right now, but you can make your own customized books by printing out pictures of Baby and the people he knows 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 he knows 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 he can take part in, instead of just watching other people do. He is still a few years away from being able to read to you, but he 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 he isn’t quite ready to answer you yet, asking him questions about each page can be a great way to draw his attention back if it starts to wander.

Make connections

Is the parrot in the picture book wearing sunglasses? Maybe Baby wears sunglasses sometimes, too. As Baby’s language skills develop more and more, making connections between the different parts of his world become increasingly important. And any school teacher will tell you that that best way to keep students engaged is to show them how what they’re learning is connected to their lives. Right now, Baby is doing the hard work of trying to figure out how all of the pieces of his world fit together, and this is a fun way you can help him out.

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