This year’s theme is Literacy: The First Five Years, and today Maria Burel hosts the topic is literacy with infants at Once Upon a Story.
Maria will be writing about the Reality of Reading with Infants, and her guests include Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page (writing about books as baby gifts) and yours truly writing about building a library before baby arrives.
A Home Library for Babies
As parents, we want our baby’s first room to be extra special. We fill it with things that say love: soft blankets for cuddling, a chair for snuggling together, a lovey (or two or three), and of course bedtime stories.
It was important to me to have books ready-and-waiting to share when the newest member of our family came home. We are an adoptive family, and during our wait, we had no way of knowing whether our baby would be a boy or girl, or even when the big day would arrive.
Whenever I had the chance, I would visit a bookstore to find books that I thought would be perfect on the nursery shelves. It wasn’t easy. Should I only pick classics? Should all of the stories have animal characters? Should I include adoption stories … but what if its a girl story and it’s a boy? … lots of questions.
Hindsight being 20-20, here is what I learned …
1. What mattered about our nursery library was that we had lots of variety. Cloth books, board books, brightly-colored books, quiet books, rhymes, and poems. Whether a character was a cat or a girl, or whether the image was a photograph or illustration didn’t matter … just have a little of both.
2. I should have visited the library and checked out books to read aloud at home. Reading a book quietly in a bookstore is not the same as reading it with full voice. Sometimes books I thought “sounded sweet” as I read to myself didn’t translate well to read alouds.
3. Pick only books you REALLY like. Being a “classic” or “highly popular” book doesn’t matter if it isn’t something you enjoy reading. I bought Good Night Moon because I felt like I “had to.” I didn’t enjoy reading it, and, likely because of my lack of enthusiasm, my daughter doesn’t like it either.
Many of the books in Catherine’s first library have moved to a special shelf in my office for safe keeping. They are memories and stories that we both treasure. They are also a “comfort” on those days when a certain 11-year-old needs an extra hug.
Do you have favorite books from your child’s first library? I’d love to hear your stories. Be sure to visit Maria at Once Upon a Story, too.