If you've never done it before, it may feel strange to read to a baby. After all, they can't possibly understand the story yet, right? So why bother?
But you absolutely should bother, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). According to new guidelines released by the pediatricians group, reading to babies from their earliest days helps young minds grow and develop. And it prepares those young minds to start learning language and even get a head start on learning how to read.
And while those benefits are certainly wonderful, there are other major perks to reading to your baby that the AAP doesn't even mention. For starters, it's an absolute blast. Snuggled up with a sweet baby brings new meaning to any thoughts you may have about story time. Think your baby is too squirmy for a book? Try an interactive book that gives your baby something to hold, squeeze, lift, or play with while you read. My girls adored "Ten Little Ladybugs" by Melanie Gerth and "What Makes a Rainbow?" by Betty Ann Schwartz.
The AAP is spreading the message to pediatricians that they should encourage parents to read to their children — even (and especially) if they think their kids are too young to read. To promote the policy, the group has paired with the Clinton Foundation's Too Small to Fail program, children's book publisher Scholastics Inc., and a group called Reach out and Read, a nonprofit agency that distributes free books to hospitals and pediatricians offices to encourage early reading.
So let's hear it. What are/were your favorite books to read to your babies? These are the books — along with many others — that will always and forever remind me of snuggly afternoons reading to my girls:
"Dinosaur Roar" by Paul and Henrietta Stickland
"Where is Baby's Belly Button?" by Karen Katz
"Guess How Much I Love You" by Sam McBratney
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle
"Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown
"Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Bill Martin and Eric Carle
"The Poky Little Puppy" by Janette Sebring Lowrey and Gustaf Tenggren
"Go, Dog, Go!" by P.D. Eastman
"Blueberries for Sal" by Robert McCloskey
"The Little Red Hen" by J.P. Miller and Diane Muldrow
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