Some Food for Thought on Selecting Books for Your Young Child

Oy!  What a couple of weeks! Unfortunately, my son and I were hit with a nasty, nasty bout of stomach flu. We're talking about 10 days of 'round the clock misery. Poor thing missed a week of school. I apologize for the blog neglect, but am happy to say that we are all mended (I actually slept through the night last night, in my own bed, without a bucket within reach!) and now it's time to think about more stimulating things. 

Child_reading_lg.312125913_std Too weak or interested in much else, we have both been doing a lot of reading – separately, together, out loud, silently, to each other and everything in between. At some point I was thinking of how far we've come on the literacy front (he's 5.5 now) and it occurred to me that I was pretty lucky to be armed with some very useful information about children's books and reading in the early years, information that you may benefit from too.

Of course, there is a lot to be said about appropriate themes in the reading material for young children, but what you might not be as aware of is how much research has been devoted to the more basic topic of how young children think about the symbolic information in books (the letters/numbers, pictures etc.). It's part of a much bigger research enterprise on how we come to understand symbols in general (not just pics and letters/numbers and language broadly speaking, but maps, models, videos, graphs etc), so this could easily turn into a mini-series. Let's start with some basics that might help in your selection of reading materials for your very young ones and see where it leads us. 

First off, you probably already know all about how important it is to read with your child, even way, way before they are anywhere near getting ready to read. Even if they are getting little more than just a glance at a picture and some (usually) black blobs on the page (that would be the letters), the research is clear that just learning the rituals of early reading – page turning, reading and pausing as appropriate, pointing to the pictures that go with your words etc. – bode very well for future reading and for academic achievement. I started reading to my son at about 3 months of age and we've never looked back.

You should know that babies need to learn about the differences between real 3-D objects and their 2-D depictions. Even if the picture of the object is highly realistic – like the digital pic you just took and uploaded moments ago – don't assume that they appreciate it's symbolic nature. Researchers have found that even though 9 month olds perceive depth cues and can tell objects from pictures of objects, they don't seem to get the significance of those cues. In other words, they don't really get the 2-D nature of the pics. So they tend to grasp, rub and pluck at the object in the picture as though they are trying to pick it up. The more realistic the picture, the more likely the manual exploration. I remember noticing my son trying to remove trucks from his pajamas! It was good to have this knowledge tucked away back then. No cause for alarm. If we want to read a short'ish and sweet version of this, try here.

Upside down bookDid you know that at first most kids don't even care if you read a book to them upside down? Yup. Before the age of 18-24 months children who are read to from an upside down book will go along with this quite happily. After this age, they are more likely to turn the book the right way around. Try it and see what happens. Don't be alarmed if your little one is still merrily "reading" upside down. Many things about printed matter are about convention remember…they are still working it all out.

What about learning from books? This is actually a very interesting issue. So you're thinking it's time to introduce some books, get little so-and-so up to speed on the alphabet, numbers and so in, in prep for preschool. You're a busy, modern mom. Probably going to hit up Amazon or something. What you'll find is an incredible array of early books on the topic. Lots of colourful stuff, some pop up, some very stylized (hey, I like pretty things too, why wouldn't my offspring you think), some with your favourite characters from when you were little like Curious George, Noddy (yup, I'm that old), Mickey and so on. Lots of books are made to be very attractive to young children and it seems reasonable to think this might help kick start that interest in learning. But you guessed it…the research suggests that we should think again.

Recent work has shown that young children are actually more likely to learn e.g. the alphabet, from books with very simple, clear depictions compared to books with more stylized renderings. Young children were taught the alphabet using books with either plain black letters on a simple background or using the more stylized (though fun) example you can find here (you may need to click on "search inside this book" and then on the first page. You should see an alligator with an "A" artfully placed in his mouth). The researchers tested the children's knowledge of the alphabet before and after the reading sessions. They found that the group that had learned from the simple depictions learned more.

Finally, other work shows that young children learn more from books with pictures that are also highly realistic, or visually similar to the thing they represent (so e.g. books with realistic photographs or with line drawings) compared to books with more artistic, less-realistic pictures such as cartoons. In one study, 15- and 18- month olds were taught a novel word "blicket" to go with a novel object by reading them picture books that contained the target information. The reading sessions were very low key, much like the type of parent-child reading that goes on at home, where Mom (or whomever) points out new words, interesting things in the pics etc. The researchers then tested whether or not the children extended those words from the pictures to the actual objects (and vice versa). Both groups of children could extend the words in both directions (pics to obs and vice versa), but the extent to which they could do so really depended upon how much the pics and objects resembled one another. In a nutshell, there was better word learning when the pics were photographs or line drawings of the objects, compared to when the pics were cartoon versions of the objects. 

So what's the deal about the simplicity and the realism, and learning? The short story is that children can get distracted by the perceptual features of the material (the pop up, the fun artwork etc.) and this can detract from attending to the content, or the material you want them to learn. Think about this in the context of early elementary text books and you get a hint of where some of my research is heading.

I know where you're going with this. Isn't it a privilege of childhood to enjoy all those beautiful, artistically appealing, fun, imaginative books?  What about budding art
ists? It's not all about learning letters and numbers etc. The answer is yes, of course it isn't!  Am I saying that you should you stay away from the pretty books? Well, no. If your goal is entertainment – to enjoy reading, art and a fun interactive activity – then you're home free as to what you choose (on age-appropriate topics of course) . But if your goal is educational, then it's worth choosing more carefully.

I'd love to hear about our experiences with any and all of the above. If you can, and want to send in pics or direct me to books, I'm happy to take a look. 

Happy Reading!


35 thoughts on “Some Food for Thought on Selecting Books for Your Young Child

  1. My husband and I are both big readers and have been reading to DS since 3 months. One of the things later on in childhood that my parents did was never limit my reading to books that should be read by my age group. In my experience, this was great, since I read more sophisticated books, although still “appropriate” and developed a love of reading. They also read the newspaper every morning at breakfast, a tradition I continue with my son, even at 2 and a half. Very early on, before he could talk, he could pick out “the Elmo book” or “Mother” (Are you my mother) or other books and know which books were which.

  2. What an interesting post! I am so in the parents gets to bring the enjoyment aspect of reading and books and leave the other stuff to teachers-camp. But we do thoroughly enjoy books at our house. (Not always the same ones. Where did the little engine that could go? Ahem.)
    Regarding the pictures being more realistic or cartoonish: I have been amazed of how accepting my kids are of “my” books (I make simple books about upcoming events, like trips or moving, or our daily routines). I am no artist, by any stretch, but the 1- and the 5-year-old happily accept my scribbles as representations of anything from airplanes to grandma.

  3. Very interesting! And it really seems to jive with what I’ve seen. We have a different Curious George book where there are pictures with the letters of the alphabet as part of the pictures, and I long ago realized that my daughter did not even notice that there were letters. Even when she was at a stage where she loved to point out letters. I believe she saw only the picture. Good thing I didn’t quiz her on it. hehe.
    Two things I’m curious about:
    1. Is there any research about those books that simply list words and have pictures with them? Like (I’m making this book up) Baby’s First Book of Words? What’s the usefulness (if any) with those books?
    2. Recently I started asking my daughter (just turned 3) questions about what happened books we just finished reading or shows we just finished watching. It struck me that I was basically prepping her (unintentionally) for those reading comprehension tests, which I always did well on. Is this a useful thing to do with kids? Or is it just fun for me to see what she is taking away from our reading/watching things?
    @Mia – I love that you make simple books for upcoming events! I want to do that!

  4. @Mia
    Children will generally take your drawings as what you intend them to be.
    If you say the scribble is grandma, it is. But with a novel book there is no one there to put the author’s intention across, it’s implied. It’s not that they absolutely don’t learn from more stylized drawings, just that they generalize more when the “perceptual distance” between the symbol and the thing it stands for is minimized. And BTW, I am still a fan of the Little Engine that Could (even if some of the toys and “treats” are now a bit quaint!).
    Love the newspaper at breakfast! Love it. Forgot to mention how important it is to model reading to children. If they see you do it, they’ll want to do it too. Also, if you set aside time for it e.g. after dinner we read for 15-20 minutes (as in your read your books and I read mine or the paper of something), children take to this ritual really well (not very young ones of course, by I do it with my 5-year old).
    So fantastic that you often comment on our posts. It really helps us feel connected. Thanks.
    Great q’s.
    I don’t know of any research explicity on those 1 word, 1 pic books but we had loads of those and loved them. There is one series in particular that I passed on to Bella’s boys. I’ll have to ask her for the series name.
    They are fantastic, one realistic colour photograph of a single item or idea and one clearly printed word below it. A super-duper start for babies. Now I’m wracking my brains…stay tuned.
    re: asking q’s after reading or tv/movie viewing
    Awesome. There’s a whole laundry list here of the benefits; bonding with you, “active” viewing or reading (= more retention), the whole reflective thing…it’s ALL good. Never mind the tests, if you enjoy it and keep it up, the tests will one day take care of themselves.

  5. My daughter is 18 months and for the past few months those “Baby’s First Words” books have been her favorite because she is learning vocabulary and loves to point at the picture and triumphantly say the correct word. The “Bright Baby” books are her favorites, but she also loves the Usborne “Very First Words” which has clay representations of each item, which seems to be a nice blend of cartoon and realistic because it appeals to her.
    We are huge readers and Evie’s board book library is obscenely huge, but if I have to pick out just a handful of favorites I would recommend the DK peekaboo! books…those have been favorites for many months because they combine a sturdy lift-the-flap with touch and feel. She has been lifting those flaps and feeling the textures since about 8 months old and only a couple of them have ripped. They are always in our diaper bag on plane trips. :)

  6. No comment on books, but on word learning, yes: we just finished being test subjects — well, my child did — at a current research project at Berkeley. It’s about the shape bias question and the rational constructivist view. I got home and ran to read a paper on it by the same researcher to put our participation in the study into perspective.
    It’s fascinating stuff. And yes, heady. I’d love to hear what our psychs think of the overhypothesis formation as a learning mechanism.

  7. @Jennifer
    Briefly, the “shape bias” refers to the finding that when babies learn a new word they tend to generalize that word (also apply it) to objects of a similar shape. It’s considered a bias because they seem to prioritize shape information over other perceptually available information about the objects. The phenomenon was first documented in the late 80′s but there is still much research activity on the topic, in part because the extent to which the shape bias is innate vs. learned is hotly debated. There have been some ingenious experiments over the last 2 decades on the topic.
    The reading is pretty dense, but if you are up for it, take a look at this:
    I take it you were visiting Fei Xu’s lab? Fun stuff?

  8. We are very lucky in that the bops is a huge lover of books at 2, and is starting to be able to read some phonics and about 4 sight words (the, to, you, are). I worry that I’m being one of those “hothouse” parents by helping her learn to read at this age, but I really do think she enjoys it and I back off if she decides she doesn’t want to learn a new grapheme today.
    My mother-in-law has given the bops several books, and every single one of them has some kind of gimmick: buttons to press to make a battery-operated sound, ribbons to pull to change the picture, or tabs to move back and forth to make a character in the picture move. I don’t think it would be polite to tell her that the bops is totally enthralled with a book whether it has a gimmick or not, and that the more delicate ones are quickly destroyed in one or two sessions of overenthusiastic manipulation.
    We have also received a few of those one word – one picture books as gifts and at first I wasn’t particularly enthused by them (I prefer stories). But the bops absolutely adores them. The simple ones like “Happy baby colors” and “Bright baby touch and feel: On the farm” are popular and memorised. She knows every word in the quite long “Usborne Book of Everyday Words” and where to find the appropriate object in the photos of fimo sculptures. She’s recently been going through a (ridiculously cute) phase of using the word “remember” and it’s fun to see her make links between the real world and books. For example, if I say “Look, a lamppost” she responds with “Remember Everyday Words?” as one of the words in the book is “lamppost.” I’m not sure that before I’ve pointed out the connection, though, that she was entirely clear that the sculptures in the book corresponded to real objects.
    Thanks for this post; I wasn’t aware of many of these research findings and they will help me read with my daughter.

  9. Before bedtime, particularly on weekends when their dad is home, we have about 15 minutes of ‘quiet time’ where we insist that the kids do an activity that doesn’t hype them up too much. Both kids (3.25 and 5.25) will sit down with a book and ‘read’ by themsleves, or ocassionally read a book thay have memorised to each other. It is so beautiful to see the 3 year old actually reading a story to the older child (the older one turns the pages). The Thomas books, definitely the favourites around here, have done wonders for my kids’ vocab. Apart from ‘botheration’ which is now one of the 5 year old’s favourite words, The 3 year old has now quite an array of reporting words under her belt, thanks to Thomas and the crew. She’ll be there playing with her Thomas trains and murmur to herself, ‘My plough is so awkward and heavy, grumbled Thomas’ or ‘Bouncing buffers, thpluttered Stepney’. It cracks me up every time.
    As a side note, I often wonder if I should be working more at ‘academic’ stuff with my 5.25 year old. He is only just now showing interest in letters and numbers and has just started to write his name. Here in Italy (well in Italian kindergartens)they prefer to stay away from any formal teaching of letters/numbers until Primary School as they say it can cause confusion when the child eventually starts learning at big school. This has even been confirmed by our Ped. What do you think Tracey?

  10. It’s interesting–I started reading to my son at about six months, and he didn’t even really look at the books until around a year old. I started reading to my daughter at about three months and she has been interested in the books from the start. He is now a little over 3 and loves books. She is 10.5 months and, interestingly, shows a real preference. Her favorite books are ones with pictures of babies. She likes playing with her brother’s toy trucks, but when I try to read her a book about cars or trucks she is completely uninterested.
    I take these differences as a mixture of (mostly) individual personality and perhaps some gender-related stuff. But they’re still interesting.
    By the way, for people with older children, there is a great blog about childrens’/YA books, called The Diamond in the Window, here:

  11. We’re big readers.
    My older daughter (she’s 3) gets a lot of books sent to her by her grandparents in New Zealand. Those are usually fun stories and almost always rhyme. My Mom (a former elementary school teacher) told me that there are two different schools of thought on reading, and that New Zealand has gone with the stories/word play approach (can’t remember what it is actually called) and we in the US have gone with a more phonics-based approach. I like the fact that Pumpkin will get a mix.
    @caramama- we have that same Curious George book! And our Pumpkin totally ignores the letters, too, and focuses on pointing out when George shows up in the picture. We’ve really enjoyed the Bird Alphabet book by Jerry Pallotta ( – Pumpkin has always loved birds.
    We have a lot of the Bright Baby books, and she has always liked them, too. I have noticed that she has changed how she interacts with them as she gets older.
    We’re just starting chapter books with her- we’ve started reading Winnie the Pooh. I think she may still be a little too young for that, though, since she hasn’t really grasped the chapter concept, and she keeps asking why there aren’t more pictures! So we’ve put that aside and will come back to it later.
    The younger daughter, Petunia, is 6 months old. I’ve been reading to her practically from birth- same as we did for Pumpkin. Petunia has just started turning pages on board books. I think this is more about her testing our her motor control (she is also picking things up off of tables, etc) than anything else, but it is still cute. For really early reading, we had the best luck with the high contrast black and white books. My favorite of these is “I Kissed the Baby” by Mary Murphy. I doubt she knows what the pictures represent, but the high contrast graphics hold her attention.

  12. Good to know about the one word-one picture books. I guess I’ll give them more of a shot–I might be surprised.
    I was thinking about my kids and reading and wanted to share something else, in case it resonates with anyone else…
    My daughter is highly active (and spirited), and she has gone through many periods of not seeming interested in books. But we are big readers, so we model it and kept trying when we thought she’d be interested. I discovered early that touch and feel books and ones with flaps or movement were the ones that would hold her interest at all, especially before 18 months old. In fact, the more gimmicky the better, for her. I don’t know if this is true of most kids, but my girl is so physical and active that she needed some way to interact with the books. (That’s pretty much why I skipped the one word-one picture books with her.)
    Now at 3, she loves to sit and read, with us and by herself a little bit.

  13. @Tracy, yes, it’s Fei Xu’s lab. We did have fun!
    Re: books, from practically birth on, I would read my books or magazines aloud just so my child could hear my intonation. We started with those one-word picture books, too — Baby’s First 100 Words, etc.
    I found that Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is perfect for little ones; it’s just as the research has shown — nothing stylized in the letters.

  14. we’re in a reading rut here. For the past 3 weeks we’ve read almost nothing but Richard Scarry’s big book of cars and trucks and things that go. This was a birthday gift to my boys when they turned 3. I am so sick of this book, and ‘reading’ consists of me opening the book, trying to sound interested as I point to the various vehicles, and them just gabbing on and on about absolutely everything on absolutely every page like they’re seeing it for the first time again. I feel bad for being so sick of a book that they obviously enjoy immensely. I try to skip pages, and get caught. I try to suggest other books, and sometimes that works, but always back to cars and trucks. The only thing that has distracted them a little is a photo-book on airplanes (“the double-decker airbus A380 is the biggest passenger jet in the world”). I just want a good story!

  15. I’d love to read to my son. In fact, I used to when he was very small, but haven’t been able to since he reached about 10 months of age. That’s when he started grabbing the pages and turning them while I was reading. He just doesn’t seem interested although he used to love it. Now he will look at picture books and name the items off (he’s 22 months old). I’m open to any ideas of how I can get him to sit still for a few minutes to read a book.

  16. @Mary
    That was my daughter. Apart from the grabbing (tearing in many cases) and throwing of the books we were reading, she would often just crawl/walk away. She genuinely didn’t seem interested in books, until well over 2 years old. I just plowed thru, seeing my older child was the book worm and loved being read to. I figured she would learn to love them thru osmosis. Which is what must have happened becasue now at 3.25 she can not get enough of them.
    Good luck.

  17. @zed – I feel your pain! We just went through that with some di$ney book of characters that bores the crap out of me, and she would take forever to read it right before bedtime. I finally told her it is too long to read before bed, and if she wants to read 3 books, she has to pick short ones. That has been working… so far… Thank goodness she is finally able to be reasoned with a bit!
    @Mary – We went through that. I had to find more interactive books (lift-the-flap, touch-and-feel, etc.). I would also sometimes just keep reading the book while she ran around the room, occassionally coming by to look at a picture. I figured it was still modeling and sinking in and that it was just a phase. Sure enough, she now LOVES to sit and read. Keep trying!

  18. Annika (2 years) loves the Happy Baby ABC and Happy Baby 123 books, which fit into the simple, clear picture with word/letter/number category. I guess it’s teaching her something, because she’s getting pretty good at counting, and identifying letters.
    Of course, she also loves all kinds of other books, including some that appear to be way over her head (like “Arthur Meets the President”). I wonder sometimes what she makes of books like that – she’s not familiar with school or presidents or any of that, but maybe the appeal at this point is mostly in the drawings.

  19. Mary, I would definitely say just read to him while he roams around the room. No point in trying to get an active toddler to stay still! He’ll get a lot of the benefits (hearing the vocabulary, learning that reading is important to you) from across the room.

  20. Wow! Thanks everyone for lively, interesting response to the post. I’m going to take this to mean that you are up for more stuff on symbols. This is a personal focus and research fave, so stay tuned.
    I can’t think of a good reason to “stay away” from early learning of letters and numbers, in general. I know of no research that shows that early knowledge of this sort could be damaging. And certainly in North America, many believe it is essential to later academic achievement.
    However, I think it important to consider the broader context in which your child is being educated. If you plan to stay in Italy and the prevailing wisdom is to steer clear of “formalized” knowledge of the alphabet etc. until early school, then perhaps this makes sense. The school system your children will eventually enter into is probably then designed to cope with this. And it could be that their particular type of early instruction is more effective if children come in with relatively little prior knowledge.
    The fact is, that barring something unusual, chances are your children will grasp on to this stuff and learn to read just fine whether on the early or the late side.
    Actually, this goes to @Dr. Confused as well.
    As long as you are not pushing and the activity is for fun, you are not harming her. What you describe isn’t all aimed at reading. Just forming assocations, remembering them and calling on them when they are relevant is a great thing to practice (heck even at our age!).
    My more general point here is that literacy centred activities early on – provided they are aimed more at enjoyment than say, achievement – cannot really go wrong. There are not just great cognitive benefits but also the social and emotional aspects of sharing all this great stuff with your child. My view is that it’s good to do these things, because it’s just generally good to cultivate a thinking little person. You don’t have to have any more defined a goal than that. The benefits will spillover to academic stuff when the time comes.
    Kudos to all of you for your attention to this stuff. A well-armed parent is already a better one.

  21. @cloud
    You are referring to the “whole language” or “whole word” vs. “phonetic” approaches to reading. In short, it refers to learning to recognize whole words vs. learning the sounds and then sounding them out. Though hotly debated (and I mean hotly!) for decades, the evidence is solidly on the side of phonetics. As in, you need explicit knowledge of letter-sound correspondences eventually, especially to be able to decipher completely new words.
    That does not mean rush right out and start putting your children through their phonetics paces pre, pre-school. Again, I’d go with the idea that early literacy activities are more for enjoyment. Let the natural interest, which may emerge on different schedules for different children (as many pointed out), catch on first. It can only help to have piqued their interest before they start to get the more formalized stuff.

  22. @zed
    Dude. Feeling your pain. Oh how I had to read Richard Scarry’s cars and trucks and things etc. But please, I’m tellling you…you need to find Goldbug. You know the little bug thing, he’s on practically every page. Get them engaged in finding that bug and you will be able to tolerate the whole thing a lot more.
    Richard Scarry is dense. I’m amazed the little eyes did not just glaze over in overstimulation. Amazing little monkeys they are.
    Now take a deep breath and repeat after me: “This too shall pass”.

  23. @zed
    Almost forgot… try Richard Scarry’s a Day at the Airport. A good compromise between what they like to look at, and at least there’s a story in there (however, hokey may or may not be). :-)

  24. @mary and others
    Depending upon your mealtime arrangements and rules, you might try reading with book held up while your child is eating. Take a bite -then turn the page can work for some kids. I know Bella used to do this, me too.
    Otherwise, I’d suggest very short sessions (even just a few minutes), then move on. If there is really a lot of resistance, drop it for now and try again later. Last thing you want is to make it unpleasant.
    Often times it’s just a lack of self-control. As in, they’d be interested but they just cannot help but move around. So just try from time to time. I bet that eventually attention span and interest will converge.
    A final word on those one word-one pic books. If your child is interested, they could be learning way more than you know. I was awe struck when at 9 months (after months of looking at those types of books, my son was a raging addict for books from the get go), we were looking at a pic of a lamp which had the word “light” underneath it and when I asked “What’s this?”, pointing to the word, he pointed to the light in the ceiling!!! Uh, yeah. I guess that stuff was sinking in all those months before when it seemed like he just found books and words like visual crack or something.

  25. @Paola
    I would not worry. If the system is geared towards a later introduction of literacy skills it is probably better to stay with that. If nothing else to prevent boredom. I think the window of learning is huge and you can see that countries that introduce literacy concepts a bit later still can do well in international comparisons.
    Not that I think there is anything wrong with an early introduction either. As long as it does not get in the way of developing other skills, like having fun and playing and being a kid.

  26. Chiming in late to say that thrift stores are a treasure trove of books for children – very affordable. DS (29 mos) is obsessed right now with the Berenstain Bears series by Stan & Jan Berenstain. I read to DD (6 mos) whatever DS is reading – right now that would be either “Inside Outside Upside Down” or “The Bear Detectives.”

  27. Oh, I almost forgot to recommend “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain” by Maryanne Wolf, which is one of the best books I have read. The title is kind of self-explanatory…

  28. I’m climbing in really late with a few observations about our little guy (22 months) who loves books and loves to ‘read’.
    We started reading to him pretty much as soon as he was born and I found that he really responds to rhyming text. But, by about 6 or 8 mos (can’t remember now), I had to be careful about how much rhyming and perhaps also the accompanying illustration. Anything too chaotic would be too much for him. We grew up with a love of Dr. Seuss, so of course, I bought a lot for DS before he was even born. But from about 6 to about 18 months the rhyming & illustration were just too frenetic for him. I had to go with something less chaotic. He’s just now able to handle being read the pace and style of the Seuss books. Though he usually does prefer a simpler book. Nursery rhymes are a favorite. Especially ones with a song. Big hit.
    And regarding the reading upside down, I must admit I was totally amazed a few months ago when DS was reading his bath book (Bath Time by Sandra Boynton) and he had clearly started to detect the right side up thing. All of the animals are depicted ‘right side up’ in the book, but the page with the ‘silly chicken’ has the chicken upside down, and he turned the book around so the chicken was ‘right side up’. Obviously, he doesn’t get yet that the chicken us supposed to be upside down, but wow! Up until that point he would read the book any old way, and then not even notice the upside down chicken.
    Great post & comments!

  29. Love this post! We are big readers and trying to model and read to our daughter every day. She is 5 months old, so I suspect we are getting more out of it than her but she seems to enjoy it (esp. Dr Seuss). We are raising her bilingually (hubby only speaks/reads to her in French, and I in English. We were told it may take longer for her to speak as she is sorting through 2 languages. Is it the same for comprehending the written word as well?

  30. I’m coming back late… (I was on vacation), but @Dr. Confused, yes, we have a lot of Hairy Maclary at our house, too! I can recite the first one from memory. My all time favorite book from NZ, though, is called The Kings Bubbles and is by Ruth Paul. We can’t get it here in the US, or I’d be giving it as a gift often.
    @Tracy, thanks for filling in for my failing memory. We’re having fun with the rhyming books and good stories right now, and plan to bring phonics in when we’re a little closer to independent reading. I agree with the idea that early on, you just want to make them like books. We have worked a bit with her on phonics, though, using her magnetic letters.
    On the Richard Scarry thing- I was HUGE fan of his when I was a kid. My poor mother. There are a lot of Richard Scarry books that have stories, too, as Tracey suggested. One such book is in heavy rotation as the “potty book” in our house right now….

  31. Ah, Richard Scarry…. My almost-17 m.o. daughter has just discovered my copy of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book ever. I am *so sick of it* 2 weeks in – it’s the only thing she’ll read! (Not to mention the anachronisms in it: “beautiful stewardess” & “handsome pilot” and “brave fireman” & the fact that mommy is always in the kitchen … but we try to skip over those parts….) The good thing is she’s learning tons of words, and is really really engaged.
    I also have to put in a plug for my daughter’s other current fave: the Karen Katz books (“Where’s Mommy,” “Daddy 1 2 3,” etc.).
    And for those with younger, super-active/spirited kids, the “Peek-a-who”/”ready-set-go” books have been a huge hit since about 8 months old.
    Great discussion!

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