Welcome to my first Recipes for Reading. It is exciting to be back at Kindred, wearing my new hat of Family Literacy Activist and Founder of the Book Fairy Pantry Project.
Sometimes we choose to read a certain book because it relates to an experience we have had with our children, like reading Blueberries for Sal after we have picked blueberries. Recipes For Reading is about creating experiences that relate to the book we just read. For this baby-focused issue I have chosen a baby board book,Peek-A Who, by Nina Lader.
Is it really important to read to little babies?
Susan Straub & KJ Dell’antonia, authors of Reading with Babies,Toddlers & Twos, answer a resounding, “Yes!” “…raising a child who reads doesn’t start with teaching a child to read – in fact it doesn’t start with a child at all. It starts with a baby.” Just as you cannot add salt to a cake after it is baked, a child, who has missed five years of being read to regularly, cannot enter school with the same readiness to learn as a child who has been read to daily since birth.
When you “rock ‘n read” to your babies, they come to associate books with warmth and comfort before they ever hold a book or turn a page. It is also a simple way for Dad or baby’s other parent to “feed” baby new words and strengthen their connection.
Of all the many peekaboo themed, baby board books I discovered, I chose Peek-A Who for two reasons. One, because it has been a favorite of my youngest granddaughter, Greta, since she was a baby. Three years later, it still lives in her book basket next to the potty. Any book with that kind of shelf life gets 5 stars in my book! And two, because Peek-A Who is short enough, and suspenseful enough, that you can read it many times a day, and if you read it deliciously s-l-o-w-l-y enough, it is exciting, every time, to turn the cut out page and see who is on the next page.
Peekaboo teaches babies that people and things are still there, even when they cannot see them, which is an important developmental milestone known as object permanence.The dependable pattern of disappear-return, disappear-return, also teaches babies to predict what will happen next.
- Turn the “good morning” greeting into a peekaboo game of, hold up a blanket, “Where’s Mommy?”(Daddy? other parent? Gramma?) drop the blanket, “Here I am!”
- Make mealtime a playful opportunity for him to learn his name with the peekaboo bib game. Bib up: “Where’s David?” bib back down: “Here’s David!”
- Drying off at bath time can be another playful opportunity to recognize her name. Towel up: “Where’s Vera?” towel down: “Here’s Vera!”
- A scarf peekaboo game can teach babies the meaning of “Hello” and “Good-bye”. Scarf up: “Good-bye,” scarf down: “Hello!”
No matter how much we love our babies, caring for babies is a lot of work. Since we are going to do that work, over and over, everyday, it is healthier and happier for the babies and the parents/caregivers if we make care giving times connecting times All day, every day, we have the opportunity to turn feeding time, bathing time, and diapering time into love-filled times, by talking, singing, playing games with and yes, reading to babies. It is a priceless investment in their happier ever afters.