Monday, 29 October 2012

A year in books

As an ambassador for Barefoot Books and a new mummy, I am passionate about books, reading and education. For me, it is never too early to introduce the wonderful world of books to babies; it can be a pleasure for both parent and child. We all want our babies to to be babies and for them to enjoy their time with us before moving on to a more structured way of learning, at school , but we can all play a big part in our children's education. Reading to young children is extremely important in the development of communication skills and can also be beneficial to their emotional development; helping them to make sense of the world around them . Reading is also fun, engaging and allows our children to be creative. 

If you are thinking what age is best for your baby to be introduced to books, I would always say as soon as possible; not quite straight out of the delivery room but almost! Personally I am not one for a strict routine but over the past year, since having Sofia, we have naturally fallen in to a nice pattern that suits all three of us. Whether you are like me or you have a more robust routine, introducing books early on can help establish a relaxed bedtime routine as well as allowing for great bonding time. As your child grows and becomes more interested in something other than sleep and milk, you can start to introduce books that your child can interact with and enjoy, particularly books that have emphasis on colour and texture for those exploring little eyes and hands. To help with ideas on what books you can buy/loan during your child's first year, I have out together a few of the books we have enjoyed with Sofia, who will be turning one shortly and is growing to love books more and more.

Newborn onwards

As I mentioned, bedtime is a great time to introduce books to young babies, whether that be short, calming stories or books to aid you in singing lullabies whilst your baby drifts off to sleep. My favourites have been Night Night Stories, by Usborne; a small collection of short stories featuring animals that need a little bit of reassurance before they go to sleep and Barefoot's Baby's first book that features lot of little rhymes and stories that are a great introduction to children's literature

3 months onwards

This is a great age to start to introduce colours and textures, as you baby's eyes start to explore and there hands start to reach out to touch new things. I have loved the Priddy books that we were bought, with Fuzzy Bee being a book that is picked up again and again by Sofia. The Priddy books are bright and attractive for babies and some have rustle, giving added fun for baby. Baby Touch books are also great, with simple and fun images that bring a smile to your baby's face.

6 months onwards

By 6 months, your baby will be wanting to explore more and more and will be more efficient in trying to turn pages and engaging with the images on the page. Babies will love texture even more at this stage, so books like the Usborne ' That's not my.... range ' are great. Sofia has also loved a beautiful Peter Rabbit finger puppet book; first of all giggling at daddy using the puppet and now trying to move the puppet herself. Introducing classics is wonderful for you as well as baby, as you remember what your favourite books were when you were a child;wanting your child to enjoy reading stories even more.

9 months onwards
Your baby is now getting more and more eager to get involved in the storytelling process and is quick to try and jump ahead and turn the pages. This is a great age to introduce action rhyme books, like the Claire Beaton from Barefoot, and get used to singing pat-a-cake over and over again. ' Heads ' by Matthew Van Fleet  is also a fun book that allows those little fingers move little flaps on the page to reveal animals tongues, heads, feet etc. 

12 month onwards
It's hard to believe that your baby has grown so quickly and is now very active, wanting to sing and dance like a little toddler. Books that have CD's attached, like the brilliant Animal Boogie from Barefoot allow interact and move about as you are telling a story. These books can be enjoyed from baby years right through to school years and are a great addition to a child's library. At this age babies can also hold their attention a little longer and may enjoy more detailed stories that are a little more in depth. As well as the classics, like ' Guess how much I love you ' , picture books that allow a hide and seek like game are great, with HUG by Jez Alborough a definite favourite in our house.

For help in getting access to books  take a look at Bookstart, an organisation that supports you to enjoy books with your child from as early an age as possible. You may have heard about Bookstart through your local children's centre or library but if not ask next time you drop in. Your local children's centre may also have a 'Toy Library', a scheme in which you pay to loan toys and books, including giant books with toy characters from the book that are great for reading in groups.
If you would like to buy the Barefoot books featured or browse some of the titles, take a look here and search by age group to find a book suitable for your little one. If it is your first visit to barefoot then please enjoy 20% off your first purchase using code TWENTY12 at the checkout.

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