There’s no doubt you’ve heard about the importance of reading to your child, especially as he or she gets a bit older and can comprehend what you’re saying.
But even when your child is an infant – before he or she can talk or comprehend language – reading still has benefits.
But what should you read? Does it even matter when your child is a baby?
Keep reading, and not only will I get into the benefits of reading to a baby (and the science behind it), but I’ll give you a rundown of the top 10 books to read to a baby in 2017.
Benefits of Reading To Your Baby
I think most people understand that reading to a baby is good, but many don’t realize how powerful the benefits can be (I certainly didn’t).
Here are the primary reasons why you should read to your baby:
1) Allows you to bond with your child
I found this one interesting because I’ve always thought reading to a child only focused on brain development; I never really considered the impact on bonding.
Research from Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics finds that reading to your baby, despite the fact that he or she can’t even begin to comprehend what you’re saying, helps bond you with them. The baby gets used to your voice, and it helps you become more attached to the baby.
It’s one thing to hold and feed a baby – but language and communication takes that to a different level. It’s a unique connection that helps forge those bonds.
2) Increases future reading and comprehension ability
This one is the most obvious. Reading helps with…you guessed it – future reading.
Even though your baby doesn’t understand you, reading out loud allows your baby to hear more words, which will better prepare him or her to start talking (and eventually, reading independently).
3) Boosts brain power & vocabulary
This really goes along with #2, but I thought it was important enough to standalone. The more words a baby hears, the stronger their vocabulary and brain development will become. This can play a large part in your child’s overall intelligence.
Let’s be honest – we all want smart kids. Intelligence is probably a close 2nd to overall health when it comes to things you want for your kids.
Although studies have shown that much of your intelligence is determine at birth (i.e. you inherit it genetically), there is still a “nurture” component where the brain continues to develop through adulthood. Reading at an early age can help your child make the most of whatever intelligence he or she was born with.
4) Expose the baby to a variety of visuals
Reading to a baby is more about them simply hearing words. Books have shapes, colors, other objects a baby hasn’t seen before. This is good exposure and aids in further development of the brain (and honestly, the illustrations are the best part of children’s books).
Top 10 Books to Read to a Baby in 2017
Okay, now that we’re clear on what the benefits are to reading to your baby, let’s dive right into the top 10 books to read to a baby (based on rating and popularity according to Amazon.com, as of this writing):
I was surprised to see this one at #1, mainly because I’ve never read it before (and I’m not quite sure I had even heard about it). It’s an emotional book about the bond between a mother and child, and I’m told it often brings tears to the eyes of those who read it.
Oddly enough, I hadn’t read this one either. We’re not off to a good start with this list, are we? This one came out in 2008, so it’s hardly one of the classics that many of us grew up with.
Nevertheless, this is a super popular story about the power of friendship and the benefits that come from helping others.
3) The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Here we go – this is one I remember fondly from my childhood, and have read many times to my daughter.
This book has it all – from learning the days of the week to eating so much that you become fat and eventually turn into a butterfly. (I wish something like that would happen to me after eating a lot and getting fat.)
4) Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
This is another newer one (published in 2011) that I’m less familiar with.
This book, praised mostly for its rhymes and illustrations, takes you through a construction site, saying goodnight to different pieces of machinery.
Ah yes, I remember this one fondly from my childhood. What better way to go to sleep than by saying goodnight to various things around the house?
I’m not sure why I liked this one so much growing up, but I remember always getting a kick out of saying goodnight to the bowl full of mush.
Unlike the other books on this list, this one has a bit more depth and definitely caters toward kids a little bit older (maybe ages 5-8 or so). I was always a fan of this book, and it has a great message.
The title of this one really says it all…
8) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
This is another simple, yet classic, story that teaches young children about colors and animals. The best part of this one is the rhythmic nature of the story – even if your child has no idea what you’re saying, they will be drawn in by the rhythm of your voice and the illustrations as you flip each page.
9) Dear Zoo
This is a fun “lift-the-flap” story for toddlers who are still learning about animals.
I’ve read this one to my daughter several times; I’m not sure why, but it always felt a little awkward to me with the rabbits described as “little” and “big” “nutbrown hares.” I found myself replacing “little nutbrown hare” with “little bunny.” Easier to read that way, and probably easier for a young child to comprehend.
Anyway, it’s a decent book – definitely a classic – but feels a bit more dated to me than the others on this list.
What Are Your Favorites?
These 10 may be bestsellers, but there are many more books that are classics (this one became an instant classic in my house).
As your kids begin to understand words and comprehend visuals, you’ll find out what they like best. But while they’re infants, it really doesn’t matter what you read to them, as long as you’re reading something (and the benefits are quite clear).
What are some of your favorites, especially those that might not be on this list? Leave a comment below!