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Most new parents know that there are loads of fab baby books available nowadays, but did you know it’s never too early to read to your baby.  Even when the baby is really young (a couple of months), you can have a great quiet time with baby, sitting ‘reading’ a book.  This will get your baby used to books from a really early age and research shows that children who see parents and other family members reading are more likely to become readers themselves (it’s the monkey see, monkey do factor at play here).

There’s a bit of an art to choosing appropriate books for babies and young children – they need something that makes baby focus on the book.  Baby books come in several formats:

·         cloth books that are easy to grasp and can be chucked in the washing machine

·         plastic books that baby can play with in the bath – these are wipe-clean which is great when they get covered in food, etc

·         board books – these come in all shapes and sizes – some feature cut outs (peek a boo), some are ‘touchy-feely’ which encourages interaction from baby and some even have sounds (push a squeak button)

You can never really have enough books, so a wide variety is a great idea.  The more you sit and ‘play’ with books with your baby, the more interesting baby will find them.  When you’re talking about babies and young children, books are not just something to read – they are interactive toys that will stimulate your baby and help with learning.

A few tips to bear in mind when choosing books for baby:

·         Make sure that the book is bright and colourful (especially for younger babies whose eyesight is still developing).  You’ll need lots of contrast of colours (think clash) to grab baby’s attention.

·         Look for interactive books that you can use to play games with baby, touchy-feely books with lots of texture that will encourage baby to touch and discover new sensations.

·         As your child gets a little older, you’ll need to pay more attention to the illustrations in books.  Beautifully drawn pictures of rabbits in aprons and mice wearing cloth caps may appeal to Mum, but they don’t give a true picture of the creatures.  If you want to help your child to learn, then true photos in the books are essential.  You can then show your child what a dog, cat, bird, etc looks like without any confusion.

Many books are written to appeal to the parents; you need to make sure that the language in the book you’re reading is age appropriate for your child.  If you come across words that you don’t think your child will understand, either use this as an opportunity to teach a new word or substitute a simpler word that your child will understand.  Most important of all is to encourage your child – the more time you spend using books with your child, the more importance your child will attach to books.  This is how to develop a love of books and reading in your child.

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