Do babies need books? Darn right they do, according to Dorothy
Butler, who enjoys reading as often as she can to her 21 grandchildren.
Need Books, written by Butler, a teacher, bookseller and
childrens literature advocate from New Zealand, is a passionate
defense of the idea that books should be a vital part of infants
liveseven in their first monthsand a valuable reference
guide on how to go about sharing the joy of books that, she believes,
brings about early, long-lasting bonding and relationships.
I believe that books should play a prominent part in childrens
lives from babyhood; that access to books, through parents and other
adults, greatly increases a childs chances of becoming a happy
and involved human being.
It is my belief that there is no parents aid
which can compare with the book in its capacity to establish and
maintain a relationship with a child. Its effects extend far beyond
the covers of the actual book, and invade every aspect of life.
Parents and children who share books come to share the same
frame of reference. Incidents in everyday life constantly remind
one or the otheror both, simultaneouslyof a situation,
a character, an action, from a jointly enjoyed book, with all the
generation of warmth and well-being that is attendant upon such
And the payoff to parents: That comes in adolescence when communication
is essential to coping with real problems; through early reading,
youve already established the habit of verbal give-and-take
and a forging of relationships.
This does not mean that problems wont arise,
Butler said. It merely means that the human beings concerned
will have ways of coping with difficulties, ways which may lead
to the deepening rather than the damaging of relationships.
Books play a major role in this process: Because by their
very nature they are rooted in language, and because language is
essential to human communication, and communication is the life
blood of relationships, books matter.
Tips for Reading to Under-Ones
- Turn pages of a brightly illustrated book as you hold your baby.
- Talk and point as you read aloud.
- Run your fingers casually under the text as you read the words.
- Try books featuring the alphabet, colors or numbers.
- Gobble, growl and grunt as you read noise books.
- And, dont forget nursery rhymes and jingles!
- To forestall grabbing, give your baby a rattle or other plaything.
- Dont make reading a chore; have fun with it.