The importance of reading in the early months is essential for brain development. Latest research (chart below) shows that neural connections for language absorption is the most critical in the first year of life. Source: C.A. Nelson (2000). Credit: Center on the Developing Child
Reading books is a great way to bond and interact with your baby. Reading aloud with your baby also has the following benefits: (KidsHealth.org)
- It teaches a baby about communication.
- It introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colours, and shapes in a fun way.
- It builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills.
- It gives babies information about the world around them.
What are Montessori approved story books?
“Fantasy is very interesting to the older child, but only confusing to the very young. A rich foundation of stories about the real world is the best preparation for creative imagination. We should check that books present reality, since at this age children are trying to make sense of the environment and the life around them. There is nothing more extraordinary and interesting than our daily life. Fantasy can come later- after reality has been experienced and absorbed.” – Understanding the Human Being.
So some important features of a Montessori approved book for children are:
- Based in reality.
- Number of words per page is age appropriate.
- Includes interesting details and pictures.
A Timeline of How we Read with baby…
“How” we read to Anika has evolved every month, after closely observing and following her development. Here is a timeline of ‘how’ we have read to her in the past 7 months….
1 month and 2 months old- We made books a part of our daily routine from early on. In the early days, babies can only see high contrast pictures so we loved reading small black and white books from the Usborne series and some black and white flash cards. In the early days, Anika enjoyed the visual aspect more than the oratory, so we spoke little and watched more. We did not disturb her concentration while she was absorbed. Once she looked away from the page, I then named it and turned the page.
3 months old- During this time, babies can see primarily colours well. We loved reading small simple books with 1 picture per page and no words. Following her interest, we started talking a little more about each page.
4 months old- Anika started grasping everything at this time. So instead of constantly saying “NO” we choose books that were safe for her to grasp and chew on. “The Indestructible Series” has been a favorite ever since and the books ‘Mama and Baby’ and ‘Baby Faces’ are particularly loved.
5 months old- Anika was lifting her playmats and everything around. So we introduced her to “lift the flap” books. It took us few weeks of role modelling but she got a hang of it soon enough and has since loved playing an active role in our reading sessions by lifting the flaps. Anika was interested in oratory as much as visual, so we started talking a lot about each page. We also added a lot of synonyms and actions into each page.
6 months old– From around 6 months onwards, a child’s language absorption power increases drastically for the many months to come. We started pointing and narrating everything in the environment at all times from here onwards. Anika showed special interest in body parts by exploring our facial features. So we introduced her to books about body parts and started pointing and naming each one of them. We also sang songs like ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ which fascinated her.
7 months old– At 7 months, Anika shows that she recognizes and understands several words. She started pointing to which book she wanted to read and also to the pictures of few words that she understood. Anika showed special love for animals and we read books about animals. At around 7 months onwards, babies’ brains starts classifying things into different categories (Wonder Weeks). So we introduced her to farm animals and sea animals of Aotearoa by displaying pictures of them at her eye level. This gives us a great opportunity to encourage movement (as she wants to touch all the animals while rolling and scooting) and conversations about where they live, the sounds they make etc.
Books are an excellent language resource for children. They also give them a peek into our real world. Some other tools that we use for language development are – narrating everything in the environment, displaying pictures on their eye level and singing nursery rhymes.
Our Top 15 favorite books for the First Year: Here is a list of our top 15 baby books for the first year. Most of these have real-life pictures and factual information. Although, we do give a bit of leeway for classics such as Goodnight Moon.
- Baby’s very first black and white book series by Usborne
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Little Learning Library by Eric Carle
- Touch and Feel Playbook by Eric Carle
- Mama and Baby- The Indestructible Series
- Baby Faces- The Indestructible Series
- My First Body by DK
- Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little toes by Helen Oxenbury
- Goodnight Moon
- Global Babies
- Baby Touch and Feel Animals by DK
- Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers
- I see by Helen Oxenbury
- Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day
- Smile by Roberta Intrater