Share a Story: Building a Library for Babies

library for babiesWelcome to the 2013 Share a Story – Shape a Future
blog tour for literacy.

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.

9 responses to “Share a Story: Building a Library for Babies

  1. Truthfully, I never wanted to see some of those early favourites again! To this day, I honestly don’t think I could read a Thomas the Tank Engine story aloud. But I do look back with fondness to Gordon, Percy and the gang because they led my son to a love of reading.

  2. I am so glad that you mentioned checking books out from the library to practice as read-alouds. I have also discovered that some books are not as conducive to reading aloud, though they first appeared “cute” from a brief glance!

      1. There have been a few. I would say the biggest is Tails by Matthew Van Fleet! Cute and good story and interactive!

  3. I agree with your thoughts about using the library to find favorites. I am slowly but surely building our home library, but I make sure that not a book crosses our threshold that hasn’t first been tried and tested and loved from the library. The library is such an invaluable resource.

    1. It’s been so interesting to me to see how many times “library” is recommended at the various stomping grounds for the tour this week. Thanks for stopping by Amy!

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