Between birth and three years of age, children begin to learn that they can communicate with adults through crying, gestures, expressions, sounds, and later through words or other alternative methods. These language skills develop through playing, listening, talking, reading, and learning the skills that adults use to communicate. Early nonverbal interactions (smiling, facial expressions, gestures, etc.) are followed by spoken language, sign language or other alternative communication methods to practice the rules of communication within their culture and family. These skills set the foundation for development in all areas, but especially literacy development.

The adult plays an important role in helping the very young child understand and communicate by being responsive to the infant's/toddler's attempts to communicate, and by providing a rich language environment. During the first three years young children are also beginning to learn about print and writing, and how oral language is reflected in written symbols (drawings). Literacy skills are promoted and supported through play, reading books, scribbling, back-and-forth communication, and interactions with adults. A solid foundation in oral language development in the early years before a child enters school will promote success in reading and writing in the future. Young children who have rich language and literacy experiences are more likely to be successful in learning to read independently.

It is never too early to introduce books to your baby. He will enjoy being held and playing with the book as he
listens to the sounds of the words. Your baby will learn that looking at books is enjoyable and special.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you share books with your baby.

  • Choose sturdy books with simple, bright, uncluttered pictures against solid backgrounds.
  • As he learns to grasp things, pick light,washable, nontoxic cloth or soft vinyl books.
  • Hold your baby in your lap and circle your arms gently around him as you read or point to and talk about the pictures in the book.
  • Choose books with rhythm, rhyme and repetition.
  • Choose books with large pictures that look like the real thing

Books Babies Like

  • Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Moon. Harper, 1947. 0064430170
  • Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Collins, 1979. 0529007762
  • Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Clarion, 1989. 0899197698
  • Martin, Bill. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983. 0030641640
  • Numeroff, Laura. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Harper & Row, 1985. 0060245875
  • DK Books, Baby Faces, 2006, 978078943650-4
  • Priddy, Roger, First 100 Words, 2005, St. Martin’s Press, 9780312510787

For more ideas, visit your local library.