I'm a bookworm since young. Books saw me through the emotional upheavals of adolescence and was my refuge whenever my introverted self craved respite. I secretly hoped my baby would inherit my love for books and we could spend hours in the library together, some day.
I started reading to her when she turned 4 months and had just enough back support to lean against my chest without slumping over. 2 months later, she learnt to flip pages and I almost died of joy :') Now she can't pass by books without browsing them — I take that as a sign that she likes book and thank the heavens for granting my wish hahah.
Benefits of reading for young children
It is no secret that reading to a young child stimulates her brain development and deepens the parent-child bond. Reading also helps babies pick up linguistic skills and make better sense of the world. Inculcating a love for books is a lifelong gift for your child.
When I first deliberated over which books to introduce to Baby Gwen, I felt quite lost. Over time through trial and error I figured out which books engaged her and kept her asking for more! It's cuteness beyond words when she crawls over to her mini book shelf, picks her favourite titles, thrusts the books into my hands and climbs into my awaiting lap.
My book recommendations for baby's first library
If you're starting your baby's first library, I recommend these 7 books, all unique and interesting in their own ways.
Tip: You might like to choose board book versions of these 7 titles (except for In the Ocean which is a bath book) as the thick cardboard material makes them more indestructible in little prying hands.
1. Where is Baby's Belly Button? Board Book by Karen Katz
What's great about it: This book helps me to teach Baby Gwen where her body parts are and I can go slow because there's only one body part to focus on per page. The illustrations are colourful and appealing. The flaps are of different sizes and are an absolute hit with Baby Gwen who loves lifting them to see what's underneath.
How to make reading more interesting: Point to baby's body parts so she can relate the illustrations to her own body.
Watch outs: The flaps are flimsy and made of thin paper stock so they can tear or bend easily if your little one is a natural destroyer hahah.
2. Baby Animals Board Book by Roger Priddy
What's great about it: It's small so it's easy to bring around and for little hands to grab and hold. The cardboard is dense and sturdy with rounded edges so it's really baby-friendly. Baby Gwen loves to fondle the small fluffy textured areas that mimick animal fur.
How to make reading more interesting: The words are already rhyming (yay!) but I dial up the fun factor even more with appropriate animal sounds.
Watch outs: The fuzz can be troublesome to wipe clean.
3. Colors Board Book by Roger Priddy
What's great about it: Too many books made for infants come with many pictures and words on one page. Because this is one of Baby Gwen's first books, I needed something simpler for her to register. There is only one item or color on a page at a time so it's easy for baby to focus. I love the vivid colours and simple design.
How to make reading more interesting: Point to the real-life objects like dress and shoes to help your child better relate to them!
4. In the Ocean Bath Book
What's great about it: A book that floats? Gwen loves flipping it in the bath and it holds her attention when we clean her up.
How to make reading more interesting: Make noises mimicking those sea creatures e.g. a high-pitched sound for a dolphin. Also use hand actions e.g. curl your fingers to look like a lobster's pincers
Watch-outs: Hang to dry after the bath as a semi-moist state might cause ridges of the book to be mouldy!
My fellow mum friend, Rosie, recommended an upgrade to the bath book that is more interactive for older toddlers. An alternative to Melissa and Doug Waterwow books, "Who's Playing on the Farm?" is a vinyl picture book which has animals on every page in pure white. The animals take on their normal colours when children dip them in bathwater.
For children to use it out of the bath, simply get some Aqua pens (you can try Qoo10 in Singapore). Now you’ve got a portable first colouring book that creates no mess! Thank you for the recommendation, Rosie!
5. Hoppity Frog Board Book by Emma Parrish
What's great about it: Gwen loves the surprise every slider tab brings! At first she was content just watching me slide out the tabs, gradually she wanted to try it on her own and would whine pitifully when she's unable to manipulate the sliders. After a few months of trial and error, she's getting the hang of it!
How to make reading more interesting: Say and wave hi and bye to the characters when you slide them in and out.
6. I'll Never Let You Go Board Book by Smirti Prasadan-Halls
What's great about it: Love how parental love is beautifully depicted in illustrations and rhymes in this book.
How to make reading more interesting: I take the chance to shower Gwen with hugs at parts of the book which says, "I'll hold you tight, and I'll never let go." Gwen loves the cuddle time!
7. Night Night, Little Pookie Board Book by Sandra Boynton
What's great about it: This book with its adorable illustrations and rhyming words really sets the mood for bedtime. It's also the perfect size for little hands to hold!
How to make reading more interesting: I enunciate Pookie by dragging it out ("Pooooooooooookie") and Gwen finds it amusing. I also make appropriate sounds and actions in relation to Pookie's bedtime routine e.g. hold an imaginary toothbrush and pretend to brush my teeth when Pookie does the same in the book. Gwen even imitates some of my actions!
If you don't wish to spend too much on books just yet (raising a baby can take such a toll on finances!), here's how you could get free baby books for a start.
Free books for US babies
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a wonderful book gifting program that mails complimentary, high-quality books to children from birth till schooling age, regardless of their family’s income.
You can check if the program is available in your state via here.
Free books for Singapore babies
Register your baby as a member of the Singapore library and receive a free baby gift pack.
The free baby gift pack contains 3 board books and a thoughtfully put together Rhymes and Fingerplays for Little Ones book (with rhymes in English and the different mother tongues of Singaporeans!)
Find out how to get your free baby gift pack here.
“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
What book titles do you recommend for a little one's first library? Share your experience with me via Instagram Direct Chat at @miraculove_sg or Facebook Group.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.