6 "starter" books to read with your baby or toddler

It's so easy to get sucked into the hype of being a new mom. We're told that we need to be the best advocate for our child(ren) which involves the "small" stuff like knowing signs of readiness for solids as well as the "larger" issues like keeping up on the latest information related to children's health. So when someone comes along with something that feels like it might be a timesaver AND help our child at the same time, many of us feel compelled to seize upon it.  But, sadly, in spite of Baby Einstein's lofty promises, a new article in The Atlantic confirms that no, babies cannot learn to read at three months.  

Sometimes, it's articles like these that reminds me to take a step backward and just enjoy the moments with my daughter as they happen.  In that vein, below are 6 books for you and your baby that I've found offer a good jumping off point into reading: 

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  1. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry - I read this book for the first time to Elisabeth at 3 months after I saw it at my sister Sarah's house. Plot: a friendly blue truck talks to everyone and helps out a larger truck who isn't as friendly. Yes, a little bit of an advanced storyline for a newborn but the rhyme-y nature, pithy life lessons ("now I know a lot depends on a helping hand from a few good friends,") and gender neutral characters sucked me in! I now know this book by heart and can recite it on call whenever stuck in a traffic jam or an unfriendly airport. Elisabeth still loves it. 
  2. Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond - Another one we started reading at 3 months. Plot: animal characters find unexpected adventures (and unlikely friendships!) with each other on a sunny afternoon.  Very fun, gender neutral and also catchy. Another one I know by heart and can recite anywhere.  
  3. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M Jossee & Barbara Lavallee - One of our favorites that I have been reading to Elisabeth since she was born. Plot: a little girl tests mom and mom continues to reassure that mom's love is forever. Endlessly sweet and beautifully illustrated. Mom and daughter appear to be Native American which is also nice. A very simple book with lots of opportunities for discussion.
  4. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown - A classic that I loved as a child and one which we started early, early with Elisabeth. Plot: A gender neutral bunny getting ready for bed bids good night to pretty much everything ("goodnight stars, goodnight air,") before finally ready for sleep. Lots of simple, easy to understand language with words to learn and repeat. Repetitive but not boring.
  5. Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg & Janet Ahlberg- One of my favorites that went off my radar until recently. Plot: Several fairy tale and folk characters (Mother Hubbard, Cinderella, Wicked Witch, Robin Hood, etc. ) join in to form a sweet, rhyming story which is engaging and fun. Great opportunities to ask baby/toddler what he sees as he gets older ("where are the bunnies?" or "Show me where the broom is.").
  6. Roadwork by Sally Sutton- A recent discovery. Plot: a crew of men and women build a road from start to finish with amazing sound affects along the way. Wow, what is not to be crazy about in this board book? There is a nice repetition, lot of action, beautiful illustrations and a crew who works together on each page to achieve the goal. Elisabeth loves the sound affects on each page.  

While your baby may not learn to read at 3 months, it is important to read to her, as this piece featured on WUNC recently explored. Remember, too, that when you read together, she is learning new words as well as a love of books. These little seeds are like so many as a parent that you plant on a daily basis which hopefully will stay with your child for life.

What are your favorites?  What would you add to this list?  Leave a comment below.

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Posted on February 28, 2014 and filed under Play, parenting.