Books to Read to Babies

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11 mo.old's attention for books--Phase? or Problem?

June 2009

I'm a first time mom, so I'm not sure how 'this' works... I talk with my baby, point things out, and try to help him learn words. Reading to him is not working out for the past couple of months. We will be a few pages in and he wants to slam the book closed, tear pages, crawl away, etc... He only has a couple of books he will listen to, sometimes. I usually just stop the reading and do what he wants to do, or try another book (which he is also not interested in.) I try to find books that are at his level, so he'll be interested, but it's difficult to weed them out of the millions of children's books out there. Any tips? Is this a phase? Or am I missing the boat on reading with my child? What can I do? I am a huge bibliophile, and want to make sure reading is important to my child as well. Is it too soon to worry? Thanks! bookworms anonymous

I think it's great that you're exposing the baby to lots of books, but in my very humble opinion you're expecting too much. With my kids it wasn't until they were about 15-18 mnths that they paid much attention to books, other than as chewing and throwing objects, and it was only between 18 mnths and 2 years that they got really into actually listening to the stories. I would just chill about it, surround your child with books as lovely things to look at and hold and keep pointing out stuff, just as you are doing. Trust me, in no time at all you'll be reading banal stories over and over and over again. And again. And then again. Don't stress, your love for books will be passed on without any effort, particularly if your kids see you reading for pleasure all the time. Abbi

Completely normal...don't think my kids did anything but dismantle books until about 18-months (unless it was a book that required me to make animal sounds) both kids have advanced language skills at 4 & 6... anon

Not a problem! An 11-mo-old doesn't have a long enough attention span for a long read. I ran into this with both my kids... just do what you're doing, stop reading when they're tired, don't force it. Eventually they will beg you to read more, especially when they see you reading all the time. Today my kids are big readers and sometimes I get them to read to me! book lover family

Don't worry. 11 mos old is WAY to early to expect a child to pay attention to a whole book. At this age, books are for holding, turning over, chewing on (get those great plastic ones), shaking, and looking at a picture or two. For maybe 15 seconds. Count on waiting until at LEAST 2 years of age before kids are ready to listen to a whole book in its entirety! Fellow bookworm mama

I have two boys, a four year old and one year old. I would recommend starting with very simple short board books. Your son may not have the attention span or interest in longer paper page books. Board books are pretty tough. I would also suggest incorporating reading into the nap time/bedtime routine. My one year old is now wanting more and more books at bed time, I am now setting a three book limit and giving him a couple of books in his crib. It is very sweet to see him looking at the books on his own before and after he sleeps. Some of our favorites for 1 year olds, Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny, Daddy Kisses, Goodnight Gorilla, Five Little Monkeys, books to Raffi songs, Baby Beluga & Wheels on the Bus, some Eric Carle. Look for books with textures, songs, body parts. Trucks and Animals are big with boys. Just keep it a relaxed and fun experience for all of you, have books in the toy box that he can discover on his own. Happy Reading Reading Mama

Stop worrying. In my experience, interest in books wans a bit with increased mobility. With my first, I'd read to her at lunchtime while she was in her high chair, or in the bath because she would otherwise move away from me. My son gets the benefit of an older sister (4) who I read to an hour each night- -the same girl who I had to ''force'' to read stuck in a chair or bath. He was allowed to quietly play during storytime, but at 12 months began to show a keen interest in reading. Now we divide story hour up somewhat between sister's books and brother's books. He has two favorites that I have read over and over. In case you're curious, they are 'Goodnight Moon' and 'The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything'. Not sure if my boy is the only one, but he is drawn to ''scary'' books with monsters who turn out to be nice guys. Good luck! Boo! Boo!

He's normal. Don't force the books on your kid. Maybe just one at a time. Maybe let him open and close them. At that age, they're into the mechanics of the book. I know there's a lot of talk about reading to your kids and I think if you keep it to a routine (we usually read books before bed but don't push it hte rest of the day unless they request it) it'll become a part of life. I also strongly think that instilling a love of reading comes from the kids seeing their parents read. My husband and I are constant readers. We read the paper, the cereal box, and books all the time and I think our kids see that behavior and emulate it. My kids love to take a book and ''read'' it by themselves. This is important. So, just go with it. Let your baby play with the book. Board books and soft books are great at that age just for that very reason. Don't sweat it. anon

I don't know if it's in the archives yet, but a similar question was asked a few months ago. Don't worry. Sharing happy times with books IS reading together at this age for lots of kids. Also, sadly, while I agree reading together is important, and demonstrating a love of books is great, you can't guarantee your child will like whatever you want him or her to like. I read with my son, he loved books as a toddler, and could recite many by heart, yet by grade school, he was no longer interested. I keep hoping that will change back! mom of one reader and one not-so-much

Your baby is displaying a perfectly normal 11-month-old level of interest in books. Give him another year, and he might be ready to settle down for some more intensive book reading. BTW the next phase will be your baby bringing you book after book, but still slamming them shut after a page or two (my 20-month-old is at this stage). Don't worry

Don't worry your child will love books eventually. . My son at that age did not seem to enjoy passively listening to books either. I recall there were a couple he liked to listen to for a few pages but mostly he wanted to handle them or move about. As he gets older, he will have more attention. And gradually, you will be amazed...he will recite them from heart. Now at 2 years old, the first thing my son asks for in the a.m. is a story. My hunch is your little one is more interested in his own skills, activity, mobility, dexterity etc. Just keep reading to him, even if only for a couple minutes. book-lovers

Please don't worry about it. There is a big push for parents to read for their children but I've found that it really didn't work for me unless I kept things REALLY simple. By this I mean, 1 or 2 words per page, 4-5 pages max. My kid just didn't have the attention span. She's now 21 months and can finally sit through her potty book. But only because I really simplified it and did not read to her, but made up my own simple story, using only words she knows. My personal feeling is that if there are involved parents (and you are cuz you're concerned and trying to read), then kids *will* learn to read, and learn to love reading when they're developmentally ready for it. If they're not paying attention, it means they're not quite ready. anon

Books for almost one year old

July 2001

I have an almost one year old who I want to read to more. I'm looking for suggestions on books that I can enjoy with her, and also suggestions for actually managing to get her to read with me (she's very wiggly!)

I suggest getting board books from your favorite thrift store because they will eventually be chewed on and/or ripped apart. I found a bunch for about 65 cents each. I am always surprised by which books my 19-month-old son will favor - some that are so boring to me are fascinating to him and vice versa. What he really seems to like are the rituals we make up. For example, I always make a ribbet sound when he points to the frog in one book. In another book, on the last page I always make the book eat his hand. Some books I read almost as if they were songs - I use the same rhythmic, singsong voice each time. Repetition seems to be key. The Pat the Bunny, Pat the Cat, Pat the Puppy books are fun because the baby gets to participate - but I guarantee that they will get ripped apart. Have fun! Helena

My 14-month-old daughter loves books and loves to read. I have been reading to her for several months. In choosing books I limited myself to books with cardboard pages because she used to grab the pages. I choose books with bright, clear pictures and not a lot of text, but text that is not too boring to me to read over and over and over and over. A Sesame Street book was her first favorite. She really likes books with songs and rhymes. Good luck. HalfDink

Try Oh Where, Oh Where Is Kipper's Bear by Mick Inkpen and Dinosaur's Binkit by Sandra Boynton. We had the same problems with wiggling and found that books with flaps or other things to touch were very appreciated at story time. Denise

I had so looked forward to reading lots of books to my baby and she wouldn't sit still either! However, at about 14 months old, she suddenly started bringing me books to read to her and holding up her arms to sit next to me. It's been so great! So I'd recommend hanging in there for a couple more months - she'll get less wiggly! Prior to that, I used to simply offer up lots of books, sometimes just sitting next to her on the floor and reading to her while she played with other toys. She definitely learned an appreciation for books in this way and often reads to herself as well and shares her books with her dolls. We're big fans of board books - all of our other books are put away for when she's a bit older. She enjoys Dr. Seuss (the Beginners series) and especially loves the First ABC, Number and Word Books. They're sold as a set from Right Start. She requests these most frequently. The Clifford books are also fun and short enough for that short attention span. Have fun! Jill

My 1-year old is crazy for books, squealing gok dozens of times a day as he brings me one after another to read to him. His favorites are lift-the-flap books and others with mechanical interest. Good titles include Where's Spot?; Who Lives Here?; Where's Maisy?; the Furry Jungle series; Rolie Polie Olie--Polka Dot, Polka Dot; 1,2, Peekaboo; and Tulip Builds a Birdhouse. Ordinary board books that have consistently captured his interest (he's also very squirmy and lets me know immediately when a book is a dud) include: Is Your Mama a Llama?; Time for Bed; If You Were My Bunny; The Real Mother Goose; Jamberry; Polar Bear, Polar Bear; Bear on a Bike; the Max series; and most of the Sandra Boynton books--especially Moo, Baa, La La La and the Going To Bed Book. Besides flaps and things that he can move, what he seems to like best in a book is a perky rhyme, bold pictures--especially if they're tinted orange--and books with animals--though he seems to think Peter Rabbit is a disaster). We're sticking to board books for now, since he's prone to shredding thin paper pages. Barbara

My baby loves the four book series by Helen Oxenbury. Some of the titles are Say Goodnight and Tickle, Tickle. They are board books (bigger size than most) with wonderful watercolors of babies doing fun things like playing in the mud or swinging. Oxenbury has many books, but this particular series is nice because of the ethnic diversity of the babies. Jenne

I have a 13 month-old. We really enjoy some of the simpler Dr. Seuss books--Mr. Brown Can Moo, Foot Book, ABC. There is a Harper Collins series of books that I have found at the library that have age-level labels on them. The pictures seem to engage my daughter and they are a great length. Plus, the language they use has lots of rhyming, which is good for young kids. Some of the titles are Baby Dance, Cow Moo Me, My Aunt Came Back. My daughter is also very into lift-the-flap books. I've gotten several of those at Target. In general though, my advice is read to her whatever you enjoy reading. It's not important that your daughter sit and listen to a whole story, just that she sees reading and language as fun to play with. Sometimes my daughter will listen to a whole (short) story. Other times she'll hand me a book, listen to 2 pages or want to read a certain page, and then hand me several other books for 2 p! ag! es of each as well. Also, we have books all over the place. Our daughter spends a lot of time looking through them, throwing them, pulling off the shelves, tasting them, and walks around carrying them. I quickly stopped worrying about keeping them in good condition and realized that if I wanted her to love books, we had to let her have access to them and explore them in her own ways. Hardin

Helen Oxenbury has a series of little baby books (two titles are Tickle, Tickle and Clap Hands). We found some of them at the Montclair Library, but I'm sure they're available elsewhere. They're short and simple with cute illustrations of chubby babies and toddlers, and you can act them out while you read them. My daughter loves them. Ilana

From the time my daughter was on the changing table, I read to her poems from a Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Lewis Stevenson. They're fun and the cadence is really catchy. Now my daughter can read them to me. Stefanie

My daughter loves board books by Sandra Boynton. They're quite cute (But not the hippopotamus), and educational too (Horns to toes and in between, Opposites, Moo Baa la la la). She has more than 10 books out. Richa

For many, many months of my son's early life I read *On the Day You Were Born* just about every day to him. I don't remember the author, but it's easy to find. The paper-cutout illustrations are simple and clear, the text is beautiful. I believe that reading the same thing over and over is good for their little brains, so I recommend you find a one or two books you like and stick with them, allowing other books to cycle in and out. Don't worry about the wiggling; if she's not in the mood to be held, you can still read while she plays next to you. L. C.

Books to read a one year old: at this age my son used to love Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? which is by Dr. Seuss or one of his associates (Theo LeSieg?). This books obliges the reader to make lots of funny sounds. Also in that same Seuss-type series, there are the Foot Book, the Hair Book, the Eye Book, you get the idea. And by the way, don't toss these out or give them away when you child progresses to being read more sophisticated books. They will still come in handy when the child is learing to read for her/himself. Dianna

We've been reading to our little one from birth and she has more recently be interested in grabbing books and backing up and sitting in your lap. (ahem...hint, hint) She's almost 1 1/2 now but this has been going on for the past couple of months. I've heard and used a couple of suggestions myself for getting her interested. * Try to read in down time when they're not too 'wiggly' or antsy to run around. They are better able to concentrate on the books and the experience of reading with you if they don't have to get up and jump or climb or get out energy. * Point to things and characters in the books as you're reading. * Go at your childs pace. If they want to 'linger' on some pages and check out the scenery, or go back and check out something you already looked at...just go with it. * Cue your child when to turn the pages by flicking the page or by voice inflection. This seems to keep our little one interested and makes the reading a lot more interactive. * Have books that are easy to 'handle' for a smaller child, the chubby books or the board books. This way, you don't have to worry about a book being torn up or damaged and your child can handle them any way they want. * This last one has worked recently for me: If your child starts to get antsy with the 'length' of the book try 'singing' the book. I know this works wonderfully with the Dr. Suess books. good luck... Liz

Check with your local children's librarian for books that appeal to the little ones. Try books with lots of rhyming or babies faces; my daughter's early favorites included Jamberry (Bruce Degen), The Foot Book (Dr. Seuss), and Sheep in a Jeep (Nancy Shaw). There is also the Harper Collins Growing Tree series of board books which carry an age-appropriate designation (Wrapping Paper Romp in this series was another big fave). Janet

Check out the Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. In addition to tips on reading to kids, he provides a well annotated bibliography of good read-aloud books for infants to young teens. For infants, one of his suggestions is to just read out loud (nursery rhymes might be a fun start) while they wiggle or move around the room. They will gravitate to you and the pictures when they are ready. Jen

When my son was that age he really loved the Sandra Boynton books, especially one called Doggies (or something like that). One dog. WOOF! Two dogs. WOOF! Yap yap. etc. Best reading time was always when he was getting sleepy, but those move quickly enough that they kept his attention. Pat the Bunny was another good one. So were any good rolling rhymes. I highly recommend Two Cool Cows by Toby Speed, for babies up to preschoolers. It's longer, but mine loved the rhythm even when he was tiny. Michelle

Check out Baby Bounce at the Berkeley Library -- most of the branches have it, some in the day, and at 7 in West Berkeley. We loved it, though my daughter did a fair amount of wandering around. Books we liked: I Went Walking (I can't remember the author, sorry); Good Dog, Carl; books that were pictures of babies and little kids -- one was called Happy Days; some of Eric Carle's books; Brown Bear, Brown Bear; and the Architecture Colors, Shapes, Etc. We had to stick to board books because the rest got torn or eaten. Have fun reading! CD

I also have a wiggly 1 year old girl who was hard to read to. She enjoys long leisurely lunches (an hour or so per meal!). So, one day it occured to me that I could read to her while she ate in her high chair. This works great. I pull my chair up next to her and hold the book out for her to see and she really enjoys it (and continues to eat). As for specific book recommendations I will also be very pleased to hear what others recommend. I've been having a hard time finding very many that are age appropriate and yet interesting to read. I have two I like now: Olivia by Ian Falconer and Way Out in the Desert by T.J. Marsh and Jennifer Ward. You sing this one to the tune of Over in the Meadow, it's very fun. Peter

When my oldest daughter was 1 year old, she and I really enjoyed the board book version of Goodnight Gorilla. Each time we turned to a new page, I asked her to point to the gorilla (the gorilla is on every page). As she became better at this, I asked her to find the balloon, the mouse with the banana, the moon etc. This method of asking your child to find things on the page may help to really engage her/him. So any book with a consistent creature as a part of the images throughout the book may help your little one to stay engaged (e.g., the grouchy ladybug). Another wonderful and entertaining book by the Goodnight Gorilla author is 10 Minutes 'til Bedtime. It also repeats a lot of critters but on a much more detailed level (so is probably better for an older child); and some of the Goodnight Gorilla characters are in the background on one of the pages. You can check out the author's web page at for the pure fun of it. Good luck!