There is nothing like a children's book full of bright, colorful pictures to grab your baby's attention. You can never introduce books to your baby too early. Many a parent has entertained their 3 week old during diaper changes with a reading of their favorite children's book. Babies not only love to look at the pictures, they love to listen to you reading.
Babies and toddlers can never have too many books. If your baby grows up listening to you read to them, they'll develop an appreciation of the written word. The ritual of reading a bedtime story is one that most babies and toddlers love. Not only does it expose them to the world of stories and fairytales, it gives them a little quiet time with you.
Most toddlers love the ritual of a bedtime story and won't let you forget it. It can be exhausting—especially when your toddler insists that you read five books instead of one—but at least you have a book lover on your hands.
It doesn't really matter what book you read to your newborn, what is important is that you are reading. Your newborn is near-sighted and can't see much past 8 inches. Most love to look at brightly colored pictures, but most importantly, your newborn loves to listen to the sound of your voice, whether you're reading a children's book or a magazine.
Older babies, closer to 6-12 months, can recognize shapes and images. Children's books filled with simple illustrations, bright colors, and bold photographs will grab your baby's attention. Older babies love to touch things and put them in their mouths. They love to grab books and help you turn the pages. Board books are perfect for this age group—they hold up well under abuse.
You may find it is hard to get through an entire book in one sitting with babies at this age, so break up your reading. Your baby may be more interested in the pictures than in hearing you read at this age. Read to your baby in three-minute increments, several times throughout the day to avoid fighting for your baby's attention.
Between 12 and 18 months, babies will begin to realize that those sounds you make while reading their favorite children's book are words. Your baby will start to recognize often heard words and understand their meaning. Your baby's language skills will develop at an amazing rate the more you talk and read aloud to your baby at this age. Look for books with lots of pictures, words that repeat often, rhymes, and clearly labeled objects. While you read, pause frequently to ask your toddler questions about the pictures on each page, encourage your toddler to identify objects in the pictures, and answer questions.
There are even books on CD that are read with a different voice for each character providing your baby with new sounds and voices. You and your baby follow along to the CD and turn the page when prompted. The twinkling sounds that prompt you to turn the page are especially enjoyed by babies this age.
You don't need a large library for this age group. Your toddler will probably want to read the same three or four children's books over and over. You may find yourself repeating the same rhymes in your sleep, but repetition is the key to learning.