By Jackie Small
I personally can’t think of a better baby gift than a book. However, buying books for a baby can be difficult. You want to find books that will be practical but will also last the test of time.
Board and cloth books are always great for babies because they are durable and tactile, but here are five other types of books you might like to consider when buying a book for a baby.
1. Black and White Books
It takes a while for a baby’s vision to develop, which is why contrasts and patterns stand out for babies. Although many contrasts exist in the environment, black and white offers the highest contrast.
Mesmerised by Katey Love
Mesmerised is an 18-page, small format board book made up of black and white images.Each double page spread features a silhouette image of an animal or creature and an associated pattern. For e.g. a bird and a twirling branch, a ladybird and polka dots, a cat and a trail of paw prints, a snail and a spiral.
This book is distinctive and beautiful for babies to look at, but its wordless nature also allows you to make up a different story to tell your baby each time you share the book together.
A classic book is one that will be enjoyed by a baby, but one that the baby will still pick up with fondness when they are an older child or adult. Often classic books are ones that parents enjoyed when they were a child themselves.
Always on the list for a baby’s first library are books such as Peter Rabbit, Dear Zoo, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but new on the market are Baby Lit books.
These sturdy board books are most certainly a treat for literature-loving parents to read to their children. The books can be enjoyed from a young age, but their classic nature and beautiful styling also mean that the books will remain life-long and beautiful keepsakes.
With a cleverly selected text and bold, bright graphics and patterns, Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver have produced books that are sure to capture the attention of little eyes and introduce them to some well-known classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet and Jane Eyre.
You can read more about the series here.
3. Books about a baby’s day
Apart from talking to your baby regularly the best way to help a child develop a rich vocabulary is to read books that they can relate to. Books that will gain a child’s interest are simple and short books that reflect their own everyday activities and adventures.
Baby Gets Dressed by Katrina Germein, Sacha Hutchinson (Working Title Press), 2009
Featuring bright illustrations created with beautifully textured fabrics, each page sees a selection of colourful apparel laid out before the baby. The rhyming prose takes the reader through the process of dressing a baby from nappy to hat. There is also the subtle inclusion of colours and patterns in the story.
4.Repetitive and rhyming books
Books with rhyme and repetition have a soothing, lyrical rhythm that babies love. Listening to rhymes from an early age is also known to assist child’s language and literacy development. What makes these rhyming books extra special is that they allow you to mix-up story-time by singing the stories instead of reading them.
Monkey and Me by Emily Gravatt (Pan Macmillan), 2008
This board book is brilliant in its simplicity. Its rhyme, repetition and rhythm make it superb for babies. The illustrations are predominately black and white with pops of red, which depict a child and her toy monkey imitating the actions of animals at the zoo.
The beauty of this simple but gorgeous book is that you can extend it by adding your own actions and sound effects to the story.
I think interactive books with flaps, textures and pop-ups will always fascinate kids, and puppet books are fantastic for babies. Alongside a fun story, they provide an object of focus and movement for a baby. They’re sure to make babies giggle too.
Monday the Bullfrog by Matthew Van Fleet (Simon & Schuster), 2011
Monday the Bullfrog is a large, colourful and striking puppet. His mouth opens wide to reveal a story about what the bullfrog likes to eat each day of the week. Babies will love interacting with the range of textures found on each page including tails, wings and a mirror.
Five more books to look out for:
Art for Baby (Hardie Grant Books), 2011
Let’s Go Baby-O! by Janet and Andrew McLean (Allen & Unwin), 2011
Friends for Keeps series by Emma Quay and Anna Walker (Scholastic Press), 2010
Hush Baby Hush, Go Baby Go, What's That Noise? and Where is Baby? By Sally Rippin and Craig Smith/Ann James/Lorette Broekstra (Allen & Unwin), 2008
Row, Row, Row your Boat, What Can You See? by Angie Lionetto-Civa and Serena Geddes (New Frontier Publishing), 2011Jackie Small manages My Little Bookcase, an online resource that aims to model and provide parents with fun, warm, friendly and positive ways to engage their children in reading.
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