I recently had a dear friend of mine ask for my mom-psychologist opinion about some gift ideas for his sweet niece for her first Christmas. He had some great ideas – starting a savings account and some cute yet practical clothes. He asked what I thought about books as a gift for a wee one (9 month old) who wasn’t yet reading. Here was my response:
I am A HUGE PROPONENT OF BOOKS as a gift at any age as both mom and psychologist. Right now, your little one could totally love looking at a board book or soft book (one with cloth or squishy pages), and a bonus is that they would be safe to go in her mouth (which lots of things do at that age). Also, books that are interactive (lift the flap, ones with different textures or ones that you can shake or squeeze to make noise) are great as they encourage her exploration. You are never too young for books – get her started early!! I love anything Eric Carle – “Very Hungry Caterpillar” is a classic, or “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” is a fun peek-a-boo book that R (my 2-year-old) has – he has been playing with it since he was around 6 or 7 months old. He started with exploring the peek a boo parts and now he kind of recites it to himself. Also, anything that has faces of other babies in it is great – they love looking at the other babies’ faces (Giggle Baby is one we have that is fun). Anything with lots of color and contrast is good and attracts baby’s attention.
From a professional perspective, the earlier little ones have books in their hands the more likely they are to become readers and the easier it will be for them to learn to read. Even when they can’t read the words, babies and young children are learning that books are fun, with cool treasures inside, and also about how books function – that they turn pages in a certain direction and there are words in there that represent things in the pictures.
One suggestion – when you give a book as a gift, write a personal message to her inside so every time she reads it she is reminded of her uncle, family member, or friend who loves her so much!
Reading and looking at books together is a wonderful way to share time with the little ones in your life – the snuggles and cuddles that come along with slowing down, sitting together and reading is a wonderful emotional side effect that comes from an activity we know helps little brains grow. So, make time every day for a little R&R – Reading and Relaxation with your family.
This blog was written byJessica Oeth Schuttler, Ph.D.
Jessica is a school psychologist, post-doctoral research associate at KU Medical Center and lecturer at the University of Kansas and Baker University. She is also mom to 2-year-old Rory and wife to Andy.